Wary of attracting EC attention, leaders try to reduce expenses

Political parties in Mysuru are focusing on low-profile door-to-door campaigning at booth levels to avoid the prying gaze of expenditure observers nominated by the Election Commission of India.

Mysuru had played host to mass public rallies in the run up to the elections. The city witnessed mega conventions addressed by Congress president Rahul Gandhi, BJP president Amit Shah, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and JD(S) president H.D. Kumaraswamy, among others, in quick succession. These rallies drew thousands of people from surrounding areas and cost crores of rupees.

But this is not factored in the calculation of expenditure limit as the public rallies were held before the Model Code of Conduct kicked in as soon as the poll dates were announced by the Election Commission of India.

Once the code took effect, the cost of every vehicle used in the campaign, people mobilised, etc, was added to the candidate’s expense. The expenditure limit has been pegged at ₹28 lakh per candidate by the ECI and this has forced the political parties to scatter and decentralise their campaign exercise to minimise cost while maximising impact.

Except for the high-octane campaigning by Chief Minister Siddaramaiah from the Congress and Mr. Kumaraswamy from the JD(S) – both of whom are concentrating on Chamundeshwari and Varuna – the canvassing has been low profile in other constituencies so far. It is expected to gain momentum once the parties announce the official list and the nominations are filed. Here, the JD(S) has a head start as it had long finalised the list of candidates for Mysuru. The party gained significant lead in terms of coverage and public outreach in both Mysuru Urban and Rural. Concentrating in their pockets of strength and wooing microscopic minorities apart from consolidating the Vokkaliga vote bank, reckoned to be their traditional support base, is the party’s game plan.

However, the BJP remains unfazed by the lead secured by the JD(S) in terms of outreach. “The BJP is a cadre-based party and notwithstanding the delay in finalising the candidate list, party activists are in a poll mode,” said M.A. Mohan, a senior functionary. He pointed out that the party had finetuned the campaign strategy during Mr. Amit Shah’s visit to Mysuru. “We have booth level activists called booth pramukhs and page pramukhs. Each of them are personally responsible for meeting all the voters in their respective booths and are campaigning for the party. We are seeking votes for the party and not for individuals,” he added.

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