Munde's poll spending remarks create stir

Mumbai, June 28 (IANS) Maharashtra Home Minister R.R. Patil Friday demanded action against BJP leader Gopinath Munde for confessing that he spent Rs.8 crore for his poll campaign in the 2009 Lok Sabha elections.

Patil, who is from the Nationalist Congress Party, sarcastically congratulated Munde for his "truthfulness and honesty" and said he expected the Election Commission (EC) to take note of the confessions by the BJP's deputy leader in the Lok Sabha.

"The EC should take the statement seriously and should decide whether such candidates can be allowed to contest future elections," Patil said.

"In my first assembly election in 1980, I spent Rs.29,000, but I had to spend Rs.8 crore during the last Lok Sabha (2009) election," Munde said at a function Thursday evening to release party ideologue Vinay Sahasrabuddhe's book "Beyond a Billion Ballots".

Present on the occasion were BJP leaders, including Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi.

Munde also challenged the EC to take action against him and sought state funding of elections to prevent pumping of black money in polls.

The amount is far higher than the permissible expenditure limits set by the EC.

RTI activist and Athak Seva Sangh chief Anil Galgali also demanded that the EC cancel Munde's Lok Sabha membership and bar him from contesting elections for six years.

"Munde has suo moto and on a public platform confessed to spending such a huge sum. From where did he get this amount? Was it accounted for or illegal, black money? The EC should probe and set an example for the next elections, which are another nine months away," Galgali told IANS.

He also shot off a letter to the State Election Officer of Maharashtra and other agencies in this regard.