If election candidates serve a cup of tea and a samosa to their supporters, the snack must cost them at least Rs 18, Punjab's election office has determined. As part of its poll expenditure monitoring process, the state poll panel has approved the rates for 171 items and services, including tea (Rs 8 per cup) and samosas (Rs 10 apiece), so that the political parties or their candidates don't quote a lower price while submitting their poll expenditure bills, said officials.
"There is a need to determine the expenditure by candidates,” Punjab's chief electoral officer S Karuna Raju said. For this standard rates for items used during elections have to be fixed, he added. He said the views of the representatives of all political parties were taken before finalising these rates.
A Lok Sabha candidate is permitted to spend up to Rs 70 lakh as poll expenditure. The Election Commission of India deploys senior Indian Revenue Service officers to monitor the poll expenditure so that the candidates don't cross the limit.
The rates have been fixed by a committee under the chairmanship of Jalandhar Divisional Commissioner on the directions of Punjab's chief electoral officer, a spokesperson for his office said.
The rate list, rolled out Tuesday, included prices of various other eatables too, including 'burfi' at Rs 200 per kg, biscuits at Rs 150 per kg, bread pakoras at Rs 10 a piece, sandwiches at Rs 15 a piece and `jalebis' at Rs 140 per kg.
The monthly charges for renting offices in rural and urban areas have been fixed at Rs 5,000 and Rs 10,000.
The poll panel has also fixed the prices of other widely-used poll-related materials like fabric and papers for banners and posters.
The rate list has fixed prices of all possible material, including fabric banners at Rs 8 per square feet, standard cloth flags at Rs 30 a piece, wooden cutouts at Rs 30 apiece, medium-quality flex frames at Rs 50 per square feet, flower badges at Rs 15 per piece, hoardings with iron frame at Rs 15 per sq ft and flags with rod at Rs 9 per piece.
The charges for hiring light and sound systems and related services have been kept in the range of Rs 150 to Rs 5,000 a day.
Hiring vehicles like cars, buses and autos should cost between Rs 750 and Rs 3,000 a day.
Actual fares have to be mentioned for travel on buses, trains and by air. Helicopters have to be hired at rates verified by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA).
The list has also fixed rates for inviting singers to entertain crowds during poll rallies.
While the rate for well-known singers has been fixed at Rs 2,00,000 or the actual bill, the rate for inviting local singers has been kept at Rs 30,000 or the actual bill. Even the prices of balloons, brooms, CCTV cameras and drone cameras have been fixed.