Senior Bharatiya Janata Party leader Gopinath Munde has stoked a controversy by his candid admission about spending Rs 8 crore on his 2009 Lok Sabha campaign, with Maharashtra Home Minister R R Patil demanding that the Election Commission take cognizance and decide on whether to allow him to contest again.
"If Munde has gone over the Rs 25 lakh limit, it is for him to explain to the Election Commission, and the Commission to take cognizance of it. If Munde has said he has spent Rs 7 to 8 crores, it would be proper the EC asks him. It is in the nation's interest, and the responsibility of the EC," Information and Broadcasting minister Manish Tewari said.
Munde, an MP from Beed and BJP's deputy leader in the Lok Sabha, was speaking at a function to launch the book 'Beyond a Billion Ballots' penned by Vinay Sahastrabuddhe on Sunday when he said, “I spent Rs 29,000 when I contested my first assembly poll in 1980. Rs 8 crore were spent for my last (2009 Lok Sabha) election."
He also openly dared the Election Commission to act against him for his remark and sought state funding of elections to check use of black money. "I hope no Election Commission official is present among the audience. Even if an Election Commission authority is present six more months are to go for the Lok Sabha polls. Even if a case is filed, so be it," he said.
Munde said only state funding could check the use of black money in the election process. He asked Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi, BJP's newly appointed election campaign committee chief, (who was also present at the function) to retrieve black money stashed away in banks abroad if he became the Prime Minister. "Then he need not levy income tax on the people for the next five years," he said.
Reacting to the BJP leader's remarks, Maharashtra Home Minister R R Patil demanded that the poll panel take note of it and decide whether such candidates should be allowed to contest in future. "The EC should take the statement seriously. The poll panel should also decide on whether to allow such candidates to contest elections again," the NCP leader said. In a lighter vein, he went on to add," Munde should be congratulated as he spoke the truth."
The Union law ministry had in February 2011 raised the maximum limit on expenses that can be incurred by a candidate contesting Lok Sabha poll from Rs 25 lakh to Rs 40 lakh. Munde's admitted expenditure on his poll campaign is many times more than the permissible limit.