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BJP leaders move Delhi High Court for quashing election of Arvind Kejriwal, Somnath Bharti for exceeding poll expenses

Tuesday, 21 January 2014 - 7:25pm IST | Place: New Delhi | Agency: PTI

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Two BJP leaders on Tuesday moved the Delhi High Court seeking quashing of election of Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and Law Minister Somnath Bharti for allegedly spending beyond the statutory limit of Rs 14 lakh to influence voters.

Former Delhi BJP chief Vijender Gupta filed the petition against Kejriwal who was his rival from the New Delhi constituency, while former city Mayor Arti Mehra moved the court against Bharti, who had defeated her from Malviya Nagar constituency in the 2013 Assembly polls.

They sought that the election of the two AAP leaders be declared "null and void" alleging that Kejriwal and Bharti had indulged in corrupt practices and incurred huge expenditure of nearly Rs 94.80 lakh during campaigning by organising a rock show "Jeet Ki Gunj, Vote for Change" on November 23, 2013 at Jantar Mantar, after filing their poll nomination.

"...The total actual expenses incurred by the Aam Admi Party on the account of concert is Rs 94.80 lakh which has been highly underestimated by the respondent (Kejriwal) and the Aam Admi Party as Rs. 14.72 lakh," Gupta said in his petition filed by advocate Ajay Digpaul.

Similar allegations were made by Mehra against the Law Minister.

"Kejriwal has influenced/solicited the voters by such massive concert, thereby affecting the outcome of the election.

"By indulging in such corrupt practices and electoral offences, he has flouted the mandates of the Constitution and has acted contrary to the democratic principles and the concept of free and fair election process as enshrined in the Constitution and the Representation of People Act, 1951," the petitions alleged.

They accused both AAP leaders of having violated the Model Code of Conduct issued by the Election Commission of India, the provisions of the Representation of People Act and also the principles of the Constitution regarding free and fair elections.

They said that many prominent singers and Bollywood personalities performed at the event and all of them charged Rs 3 lakh to Rs 10 lakh, which was allegedly paid by Kejriwal.

The petitions also said that the concert was advertised through newspapers, TV and radio to attract voters. Elaborate arrangements were put in place and the programme was attended by more than 20,000 people, they added. 

Gupta said, "If the total cost of the show/concert is roughly estimated, it will not come to be less than Rs one crore.

He said he had "information that the show was addressed and attended by Kejriwal and three other AAP candidates namely Somnath Bharti from Malviya Nagar constituency, Surinder Singh from Delhi Cantt. constituency and Manish Sisodia from Patparganj, who was also a star campaigner. In that event, Rs 33 lakh has to be added in the expenses account" of Kejriwal.

The former Delhi BJP chief said that the Election Commission has a video reocrding of the event but the same is yet to be provided to him.

The petitions said that on their complaint, an inquiry was initiated by the Election Commission and the District Expenditure Monitoring Committee "erroneously apportioned" an expenditure of Rs 13.05 lakh in the account of Kejriwal, Bharti and Surinder Singh.

They said that the assessment arrived at by the Commission treating the concert as "good cause" was "erroneous" and no independent information was used to evaluate the exact amount.

"....The stand of Kejriwal and AAP that the artists/ celebrities have not charged for performing in the concert for being associated with the party is factually wrong and, hence, not acceptable as per the guidelines of the Election Commission.

"If such explanation is accepted, then every candidate will organise such similar events in the name of "good cause" to influence/target voters and will get away by breaching the monetary ceiling imposed by the Election Commission for conducting free and fair elections of candidates," the petitions said.

The BJP leaders also alleged that Kejriwal and Bharti did not show the expenses incurred on the concert in the register of expenses provided by the Commission.

Kejriwal had secured 44,269 votes while Sheila Dikshit and Vijender Kumar secured only 18,405 and 17,952 votes respectively.

Bharti had won from Malviya Nagar with 32,258 votes, defeating Mehra who had garnered 24,486 votes.

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