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Civic polls: Candidates to spend big despite low salaries

Statesman News Service | Chandigarh |

As the civic polls for Punjab’s three Municipal Corporations (MCs) and 32 Nagar Panchayats (village councils) are slated to be held on 17 December, many candidates are ready to spend huge money to win the high stake elections despite the fact that they would get just Rs 5,000 to 7,000 per month, if elected. Though the candidates affiliated with various political parties do not talk about their expenditure openly, they do admit that the expenses will not be any less to those during Assembly elections.

As per a source, a Nagar Panchayat councilor gets anything between Rs 4,000 to Rs 7,000 while a Mayor gets between Rs 6,000 and Rs 10,000 per month. “This should be enhanced to at least three times. This will add some respectability to the post, reduce corruption, and have more deserving people opt for it. If a parliamentarian gets Rs One Lakh, a legislator gets Rs 50,000, a MC councillor must get Rs 25,000 per month,” Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) legislator, Kanwar Sandhu told The Statesman. He said, in Canada, for example, if the salary of a parliamentarian or a legislator is $1.50 lakh a year, that of a councillor is $One Lakh. No wonder, many parliamentarians or legislators in those countries often decide to contest for city council seats.

For the first time, the expenditure limits have been increased in the MC polls in Punjab. A candidate can now spend up to Rs 2.50 lakh against the previous limit of Rs 2.07 lakh. Meanwhile, State Election Commissioner, Jagpal Singh Sandhu said those contesting from a ward of the municipal committees coming under class one, has been fixed at Rs 2.25 lakh. The municipal committees coming under class two would have the expenditure limit of Rs 1.40 lakh and for those come under class three would have to adhere to the expenditure limit of Rs.1.20 lakh. Similarly, the candidates contesting from any ward of the Nagar Panchayats would have to observe the expenditure limit of Rs 80,000. “We have deputed our staff to keep a vigil on the exceeding expenditure by candidates contesting civic polls. We will take an appropriate action if a complaint arises in this regard,” he said.