BJP spent over Rs 24 crore on star campaigners' chartered flights in Bihar polls: Expenditure report

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New Delhi, May 21 (PTI) The BJP spent nearly Rs 26.7 crore from its central headquarters accounts for the 2020 Bihar assembly elections, including Rs 24.07 crore towards chartered aircraft travel expenses of its star campaigners such as J P Nadda, Rajnath Singh and Yogi Adityanath.

In addition to it, the gross expenses made by the BJP's Bihar unit during the election period stood at nearly Rs 28 crore, while a total of Rs 16.5 crore was given to the party candidates as financial assistance with most of them getting Rs 15 lakh each, shows the expenditure statement filed by it with the Election Commission.

The gross expenses made by the party, including by the central headquarters and the state unit between the announcement and completion of the elections, stood at nearly Rs 71.73 crore, while the gross receipts during this period were to the tune of Rs 35.83 crore.

While the cumulative opening balance for the party's central headquarters and state unit stood at Rs 2,367.90 crore before the announcement of polls, the post-poll closing balance fell to Rs 2,279.96 crore, showed the statement filed by the party in March and made public by the EC on Friday.

Of this, the cash-in-hand component rose from Rs 2.79 crore to Rs 5.71 crore during this period.

While the central headquarter recorded a gross receipt of Rs 31.88 crore, the same for the state unit was Rs 3.9 crore.

The state unit incurred total expenses of Rs 1.5 crore towards travel expenditure of star campaigners, including for helicopter and taxi used by leaders like Rajnath Singh, Sushil Modi, Devendra Fadnavis and Shahnawaz Hussain. It spent nearly Rs 45.6 lakh on travel expenditure of other leaders, including by taxi and train.

The Bihar unit of the party spent more than Rs 16 crore on media advertisements, which included Rs 1.59 crore to Google India.

One candidate can spend a maximum of Rs 30.8 lakh in assembly elections to a state like Bihar, as per ceilings imposed by the poll panel. However, there is no such ceiling for campaigning expenditure by a political party.

Of the gross expenditure of Rs 71.73 crore by the party's central headquarter and state unit for the Bihar polls, Rs 54.7 crore was spent on 'general party propoganda', nearly Rs 17 crore was spent on candidates including Rs 43.84 lakh for mandatory 'publicity of criminal antecedents'.

The National Democratic Alliance of the BJP, JDU and other parties won the elections held in October-November 2020.

The statement further showed that the BJP's central headquarter transferred Rs 44.4 crore to its Bihar unit for election expenses.

The opening balance of the party funds at the central headquarter level stood at Rs 2,350 crore (including Rs 2.42 crore in cash) before the Bihar polls, which declined to Rs 2,253 crore post-polls (including Rs 2.8 crore in cash).

The expenditure by the central headquarter also included Rs 2.14 crore towards 'call centre' and Rs 12.05 lakh on 'media audit'.

Besides party president Nadda, Defence Minister Singh and UP Chief Minister Adityanath, other star campaigners for whom travel expenditure was borne by the central headquarter included R P Singh, Raghubar Das, Rajeev Pratap Rudy, Bhupendra Yadav, Ashwani Choubey, Samrat Choudhary and Mangal Pandey. PTI NAB BJ SMN

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