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regular-article-logo Thursday, 18 July 2024

Fraud finger at BJP leader Arjun Biswas for misappropriating funds earmarked for poll expenses

This allegation came days after Amrita Roy, the BJP candidate from Krishnanagar, publicly expressed frustration over the apparent mismanagement of election funds, pointing out that she was neither informed about the total disbursed amount nor provided with a clear accounting of their utilisation

Saibal Gupta, Subhasish Chaudhuri Calcutta, Krishnagar Published 24.06.24, 08:19 AM
Representational image

Representational image File picture

A BJP activist has filed an FIR against Arjun Biswas, the president of the party’s Nadia north organisational district unit, at Kotwali police station of Tehatta in Nadia, accusing him of misappropriating funds earmarked for election-related expenses during the recent Lok Sabha election.

This allegation came days after Amrita Roy, the BJP candidate from Krishnanagar, publicly expressed frustration over the apparent mismanagement of election funds, pointing out that she was neither informed about the total disbursed amount nor provided with a clear accounting of their utilisation.

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Biswas, however, denied having any kind of involvement in the financial misappropriation. “There are individuals attempting to discredit the party. The election fund was allocated specifically for campaign purposes, and I have submitted a comprehensive report of the expenditures to the state party leadership. They have reviewed the report and did not raise any concerns. I am unsure who this person is or what authority he has to question me,” Biswas said.

Amrita Roy’s case is not an isolated incident. There have been multiple reports and grievances suggesting that some district-level leaders within the BJP have collectively engaged in the embezzlement of funds designated for election purposes. The scope of these allegations is broad, with complaints emerging from various constituencies across the state, including Diamond Harbour, Bankura, Jhargram, and Basirhat.

Recently, the party had to showcause BJP’s candidate from Diamond Harbour Abhijit Das (Bobby) because of his differences with the party president of the constituency Abhijit Sardar. There was allegation against Das who was instrumental in staging a protest infront of the central fact-finding team that had come to the state to investigate the post-election ‘terror’ situation at Amtala in Diamond Harbour constituency.

In the showcause letter dated June 18, Das was accused of not attending an important meeting (meeting with the central fact-finding team), preventing victims of post-election attacks from attending that meeting, and indulging the party workers to stage a protest infront of the central leadership.

Sources within the party revealed that the primary disagreement between Sardar and Das arose over the management of election funds. Party insiders explained that district presidents and Lok Sabha in-charges are responsible for disbursing funds from the party account, with candidates having no direct control over these expenditures. This process is strictly overseen by state or district leadership, who maintain detailed financial records. Candidates are allocated only a specific portion of the funds for their campaign expenses.

“Earlier the entire election amount was transferred to the account of the candidate and he had the entire control over the expenses but that was creating a lot of confusion and there was an allegation that the candidate was not using the fund and was keeping it to himself. Now the fund is managed by a team of experts under the guidance of the party district president,” a senior BJP leader said.

There is a huge amount of money involved in the LokSabha and so control over the financial management has become a major issue in this election. Sources in the party said that after the election announcement, approximately 20,000 rupees per booth was allocated, with around 1,900 booths in a typical Lok Sabha constituency, amounting to nearly 40 million rupees.

Additionally, substantial sums are provided to districts for printing posters and banners. Candidates can use the funds they receive for their campaign expenses. The division of expenses between the district and the candidate is supposed to be decided through mutual discussion. The state BJP also provides campaign materials, which are uniform for everyone.

“Additionally, there are expenses for the campaigns of star campaigners, including state and central leaders. The state financial management committee oversees the expenses for state leaders, while the central office manages the expenses for central leaders,” a senior BJP leader said.

However, another senior BJP leader said: “There can be minor embezzlement within various small expenses but the amount is not ‘significant’. Compared to other parties, theft and corruption are much lower in our party because the accounting system is very strict, and party funds cannot be spent at will.”

“It is mostly the defeated candidates who raise questions. After a loss, everyone looks for a villain!” he added.

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