Union Minister Jairam Ramesh today demanded a "serious expenditure audit" of the money spent by parties in the just concluded Lok Sabha polls, claiming Narendra Modi's campaign spending had reached an "obscene level" while Congress' was "peanuts" in comparison.
"The amount of money that BJP's Prime Ministerial candidate has spent is astronomical...I think obscene level of funding. But clearly our level of spending was peanuts compared to what Mr Modi was able to raise," the Congress leader said here.
In an interaction with mediapersons at the Indian Women's Press Corps here, Ramesh also came out with a proposal to check overspending of money during poll campaigning, suggesting abolition of the MPLAD scheme and using the money to state-fund elections.
A whopping Rs 30,000 crore were projected to have been spent by the government, political parties and candidates in the nine-phased polls started on April 7 and concluded on May 12.
Referring to the BJP's ad campaign through print media, Ramesh said "front page ads in newspapers" given by Modi "will tell you the story--the amount of money that has been spent".
"Taking a front page ad in newspaper is not cheap. The Congress Party didn't take out even one full page front page ad," he said.
Ramesh, who was chief Congress
campaigner in Seemandhra and Telangana ,said he was "appalled" at the level of spending by candidates belonging to all political parties for winning assembly and Lok Sabha polls there.
"I was apalled. Crores have been spent in Assembly seats, in Parliament seats irrespective of political parties.
In this circumstances, only big contractors and real estate developers can contest elections," he said.
The Rural Development Minister said that all parties should reach a consensus on electoral reforms.
"If you are asking me that there should be a serious expenditure audit. I agree with you. There must be realistic expenditure norms, there must be genuine expenditure audit.
Because with this level of funding that we are seeing, this is another threat to Indian democracy," he said.