Polling on the doorsteps, Patna Sahib candidates and their supporters are pulling out all stops, err cash, to ensure victory.
Before the Election Commission’s eyebrows can rise, a clarification — the money spent is according to the panel’s rates. Over the past 20-25 days, the candidates have spent Rs 8 lakh to Rs 14 lakh in campaigning, including travel. Campaigning in Patna Sahib ends on April 15.
As of April 9, Dr Gopal Prasad Sinha, the JD(U)’s candidate, tops the expense chart. In the poll fray for the first time, Sinha has spent Rs 13,97,000. Bhojpuri actor Kunal Singh, who has been fielded by the Congress, again for the first time, comes second with an expense of Rs 10,88,000. Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) candidate Parveen Amanullah and BJP candidate, and sitting MP, Shatrughan Sinha has spent Rs 10,55,000 and Rs 8,16,000, respectively.
The figures are till Wednesday because the Election Commission has given the candidates three dates — April 4, 9 and 14 — on which they have to submit details of their poll expenditure.
Although Dr Sinha could not be reached for comment on his poll expenditure, The Telegraph got through his physician-son, Ajay Alok. He said: “It’s not a matter of excitement for my father but that of the party workers which has been reflected in the poll expenses. We didn’t want to spend so much money on campaigning but the party workers are very excited about his nomination. In fact, they are encouraging my father to do various things that is taking up the expenses. But I won’t say it is bad.”
Claiming that the party workers are leaving no stone unturned to ensure Dr Sinha’s win, Alok added: “They have asked my father to set up temporary party offices at different places in the constituency. They say it can help in campaigning. So far, we have set up 19 party offices.”
For actor Kunal Singh, politics is in his blood — his father started as a lawyer but later served as an MLA and minister till 1990. He said: “I belong to a politician’s family, so I am aware of how much money has to be spent on the campaigning trail. I have not spent on frivolous things, but only on the essentials.”
Rahmat, the daughter of Parveen Amanullah, a former minister in Nitish Kumar’s cabinet, also said the money spent on her mother’s campaign tour was based on what is absolutely necessary. “People know very well that our party (AAP) does not have the money power of big parties. We are relying on the contribution of our volunteers. You would be surprised to know that we have not given a single advertisement in the print or television media. We have just given an advertisement in a local FM channel that cost us Rs 22,000. At the temporary party offices, volunteers are spending money from their pockets,” said Rahmat (31).
Sitting MP Shatrughan is under a lot of fire from his opponents for not doing any work for his constituency, but he has the lowest poll expenditure as of now. As the actor-MP was busy in a meeting, The Telegraph spoke to one of the BJP workers. He said: “Sinhaji is a big film star and people of the constituency love him. So, he does not need to spend a lot on campaigning.”