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Star campaigners UPSC NOTE

 Star campaigners

  • Section 77 of the Representation of the People Act, 1951 (RP Act) provides for law relating to expenditure incurred by ‘leaders of a political party’. 

  • These ‘leaders of a political party’ are popularly known as ‘star campaigners’

  • These star campaigners are usually the top leaders of a political party but can include other celebrities as well

  • The only requirement is that these persons have to be members of the political party that appoints them. 

  • The RP Act provides that a recognised political party (national or State) can appoint a maximum of 40 star campaigners while a registered unrecognised political party can appoint up to 20

  • These names are to be communicated to the Election Commission (EC) and Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) of the States as applicable within seven days from the date of notification of such election. 

  • In case of a multi-phase election, a political party can submit separate list of star campaigners for different phases. 

  • However, it is noticed that all major parties provide a single list for a State that is applicable for all phases

Benefits

  • The RP Act provides that expenditure incurred by the ‘leaders of a political party’ on account of travel by air or any other means of transport for campaigning for their political party shall not be deemed to be part of the election expenditure of a candidate of such party. 

  • The election expenditure limit for candidates is ₹95 lakh per Lok Sabha constituency in larger States and ₹75 lakh in smaller States. 

  • Hence, these star campaigners would be vote-fetchers for candidates set up by respective parties without affecting their expenditure limit. 

  • However, this is applicable only if the star campaigners limit themselves to general campaigning for the party. 

  • If in any rally/meeting organised, the star campaigner seeks votes in the name of contesting candidate(s) or shares the dais with them, then the rally/meeting expense shall be apportioned to the election expenditure of such candidate(s). 

  • If the star campaigner incurs boarding/lodging expenses while campaigning for any candidate(s), it shall be included in the expenditure account of such candidate(s) irrespective of whether it is paid for by the candidate(s). 

  • Further, if any candidate(s) travel with the star campaigner, then 50% of the travel expenditure of the star campaigner shall also be apportioned to such candidate(s).

Issues

  • The EC has issued an advisory to all political parties to maintain decorum and restraint in campaigning and raise the level of election to ‘issue’ based debate. 

  • It also put star campaigners on notice in case of any violations

  • The star campaigners of all parties have been guilty of using inappropriate and abusive words against leaders of other political parties — appealing to caste/communal feelings of electors and making unsubstantiated allegations.

Issues

  • Another issue is with respect to the assessment of expenditure incurred for the rally/meeting of such star campaigners which is always significantly lower than the actual expenditure. 

  • This may be due to the rate card used by the EC that does not reflect current market rates for various items. 

  • This results in lower apportionment of expenditure to contesting candidates.

The Need for Change

  • At present, the RP Act stipulates that political parties can appoint or revoke the appointment of star campaigners. 

  • As per Article 324 of the Constitution, the EC is the highest authority that has been vested with the powers of superintendence and control of elections. 

  • Hence, the law may be amended to authorise the EC to revoke the ‘star campaigner’ status of a leader, in case of any serious violation of Model Code of Conduct, thereby depriving the party candidates of expenditure relief for their campaigns. 

The Need for Change

  • This would hopefully instil a sense of responsibility among them and ensure that campaigns maintain the necessary decorum and restraint. 

  • Also, the assessment and apportionment of rally/meeting expenses where star campaigners’ campaign for particular candidate(s) should be made more robust.

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Learnerz IAS | Concept oriented UPSC Classes in Malayalam: Star campaigners UPSC NOTE
Star campaigners UPSC NOTE
Learnerz IAS | Concept oriented UPSC Classes in Malayalam
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