Kolkata: Although there have been widespread allegations that the BJP had spent a huge amount of money to de-throne the Mamata Banerjee-led Trinamool Congress in West Bengal, data has however revealed that the ruling party had coughed up more in the Assembly polls held earlier this year in the state.
According to an expenditure report submitted by the political parties to the Election Commission, the BJP had spent Rs. 151.18 crore in the Assembly polls, while the ruling Trinamool Congress spent Rs. 154.28 crore marginally surpassing its national rival.
The expenditure report submitted by the BJP shows that it ha spent Rs. 252.02 crore for the elections in the five states of Assam, Puducherry, Tamil Nadu, Kerala and West Bengal, of which nearly 60 per cent (Rs. 151.18 crore) of the money was for West Bengal only.
While the party spent Rs. 43.81 crore for Assam, Rs. 29.24 crore for Kerala, Rs. 22.97 crore for Tamil Nadu and Rs 4.79 crore for Puducherry, it was only for West Bengal that the BJP had coughed up more than 151 crore making it obvious that the saffron brigade was keen to win in the state.
The spending of money by the BJP was at the centre of controversy after there were widespread allegations that the saffron brigade was trying to influence the voters with money. Even a few days before, former governor of Meghalaya and Tripura and party veteran Tathagata Roy wrote: “The party must be pulled out of the money and women’s circle. In this way, the party will go backward and not forward.”
A person even lodged an FIR against Roy asking the police to interrogate him because he knew a lot of things regarding the involvement of money and women in politics.
Not only the Trinamool Congress leaders but the Chief Minister herself had alleged that the BJP was using money and muscle power to influence the voters.
Speaking at a rally, Banerjee had said that BJP leaders were distributing large sums of money running into crores of rupees to influence electoral outcomes besides bringing in “hired goons” and asked for action by the Election Commission.
On the other hand, the Trinamool Congress that has occasionally alleged that the saffron brigade was using money and agency to grab power in the state, has spent more than Rs 154 crore to stay in power.
Of this, the total expenditure on general party propaganda was Rs. 79.66 crore and the total expenditure on candidates Rs. 74.61 crore.
“As the Trinamool Congress didn’t have any representation in the other states so it is obvious that the entire money has been spent in West Bengal,” a senior official of the Election Commission said.
When asked about it, a senior BJP leader said: “Now one can easily understand who was distributing money and how they came to power. They have used the people’s money for the purpose of winning elections. Living in a glass house one should not throw stones at others. The chief minister should come out with an open statement. The people have the right to know the truth.”
On the other hand, the expenditure of two other major political parties, the CPI(M) and Congress was meagre.
When the CPI(M) had an election expense of Rs. 32.64 crore, Congress had only Rs. 26.45 crore. Interestingly enough, the Congress only spent Rs. 4.6 crore in West Bengal.