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Star Campaigners


The Lok Sabha Polls are seeing prominent personalities being appointed as star campaigners. In this context, it is important to note the legal frameworks governing star campaigners. Typically, star campaigners are prominent figures within a political party, though they may also include celebrities. The key criterion is that they must be members of the appointing political party.



  • Parliament
  • Transparency and Accountability
  • Representation of People’s Act
  • Constitutional Bodies
  • Indian Constitution

Mains Question:

In the context of the ongoing Lok Sabha polls, discuss the legislative framework and directives governing star campaigners. Also highlight the Election Commission of India’s directives in this regard. (15 Marks, 250 Words).

Legal Framework:

  • As for the legal framework, Section 77 of the Representation of the People Act, 1951 (RP Act), outlines regulations concerning the expenses incurred by individuals termed as ‘leaders of a political party’, colloquially known as ‘star campaigners’.
  • Under the RP Act, a recognized political party, either at the national or state level, can designate a maximum of 40 star campaigners, while a registered but unrecognized political party can appoint up to 20.
  • These designations must be communicated to the Election Commission (EC) and the Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) of the respective states within seven days of the election notification.
  • In the case of multi-phase elections, political parties can submit separate lists of star campaigners for different phases. However, it’s worth noting that most major parties typically provide a single list for a state, applicable across all phases of the election.

What Advantage does this Entail?

  • According to the RP Act, expenses related to travel, whether by air or any other mode, incurred by the ‘leaders of a political party’ for campaigning on behalf of their party are not considered part of the election expenditure of the party’s candidates.
  • The expenditure limit for candidates is set at ₹95 lakh per Lok Sabha constituency in larger states and ₹75 lakh in smaller states. Consequently, these designated star campaigners can attract votes for their respective party’s candidates without impacting their expenditure cap.
  • However, this provision applies only if the star campaigners restrict themselves to general campaigning for the party.
  • If, during any rally or meeting, the star campaigner actively solicits votes for specific candidates or shares the platform with them, the expenses for that rally or meeting will be allocated to the election expenditure of those candidate(s).
  • If the star campaigner bears boarding or lodging expenses while campaigning for any candidate(s), those expenses will be included in the expenditure account of the respective candidate(s), regardless of whether they were paid by the candidate(s) themselves.
  • Moreover, if any candidate(s) travel alongside the star campaigner, 50% of the travel expenses of the star campaigner will also be allocated to those candidate(s).

Election Commission (EC)’s Directive for Star Campaigners:

Uphold Decorum:

  • The Election Commission (EC) has issued a directive to all political parties, urging them to uphold decorum and restraint in their campaigning efforts and elevate the election discourse to focus on issues.
  • Additionally, it has cautioned star campaigners against any violations. Star campaigners from various parties have been found guilty of resorting to inappropriate and abusive language against leaders of opposing political parties, often appealing to caste or communal sentiments and making baseless allegations.
  • An example of this occurred in January 2020 during campaigning for the Delhi Assembly election when the EC ordered the removal of Anurag Thakur and Parvesh Verma of the BJP from the list of star campaigners due to inflammatory remarks that breached the Model Code of Conduct.
  • Another incident took place in November 2020 during the campaign for bye-elections to the Madhya Pradesh Assembly, where the Supreme Court intervened to stay the EC’s decision to revoke the star campaigner status of Kamal Nath from the Congress party for making derogatory remarks against a female candidate from the BJP. The court noted that the EC lacked the authority to take such action.

Assessment of Expenditure:

  • Another concern relates to the assessment of expenditure incurred during rallies or meetings organized by these star campaigners, which often appears significantly lower than the actual expenditure.
  • This discrepancy may stem from the EC’s use of a rate card that fails to reflect current market rates for various items, resulting in a lower allocation of expenditure to contesting candidates.

What actions are necessary?

  • Currently, under the RP Act, political parties have the authority to appoint or remove the designation of star campaigners.
  • However, according to Article 324 of the Constitution, the Election Commission (EC) holds the highest authority and is empowered with the supervision and regulation of elections.
  • Therefore, it may be prudent to amend the law to grant the EC the ability to revoke the ‘star campaigner’ status of a leader in cases of significant violations of the Model Code of Conduct.
  • This amendment would effectively prevent party candidates from benefiting from expenditure relief for their campaigns.
  • Such a measure aims to foster a sense of accountability among leaders and ensure that campaign activities maintain the requisite decorum and restraint.


There is also a need to enhance the assessment and allocation process for expenses incurred during rallies or meetings where star campaigners campaign for specific candidate(s). This adjustment should be more rigorous and transparent to accurately reflect the actual expenditure involved.

May 2024