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Sunita Kejriwal Appointed as AAP’s ‘Star Campaigner’ for Gujarat Elections


Sunita Kejriwal, the wife of Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, has been appointed as a ‘star campaigner’ by the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) for its campaign in Gujarat.


GS II: Polity and Governance

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Legal Provisions for Star Campaigners
  2. Benefits for Star Campaigners
  3. Concerns Regarding Campaigning by Star Campaigners
  4. Measures to Maintain Decorum and Restraint in Campaigning

Legal Provisions for Star Campaigners

Section 77 of the Representation of the People Act 1951 (RP Act)
  • Governs the expenditure incurred by ‘leaders of a political party’.
  • These leaders are commonly referred to as ‘star campaigners’.
Definition and Eligibility
  • Star campaigners are typically the top leaders of a political party.
  • Can also include other celebrities.
  • Requirement: They must be members of the appointing political party.
Appointment Limit
  • Recognised political party (national or State): Up to 40 star campaigners.
  • Registered unrecognised political party: Up to 20 star campaigners.
Notification Process
  • Names to be sent to the Election Commission (EC) and Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) within seven days from the election notification date.
Multi-phase Election Provision
  • Parties can submit separate lists of star campaigners for different election phases.

Benefits for Star Campaigners

Expenditure Exclusion
  • Expenditure by star campaigners on travel for party campaigning is not counted as part of a candidate’s election expenditure.
Election expenditure limit:
  • ₹95 lakh per Lok Sabha constituency in larger States.
  • ₹75 lakh in smaller States.
  • Star campaigners act as vote-fetchers without affecting candidate’s expenditure limit.
General Campaigning Clause
  • Applies when star campaigners limit their role to general party campaigning.
  • If they seek votes for specific candidates or share the stage with them:
    • Rally/meeting expenses are included in the candidate’s election expenditure.
Boarding and Lodging Expenses
  • Incurred by star campaigners for any candidate are part of the candidate’s expenditure account, regardless of who pays.
Travel Expenditure
  • If candidates travel with the star campaigner:
  • 50% of the star campaigner’s travel expenses are allocated to the candidate(s).

Concerns Regarding Campaigning by Star Campaigners

Inappropriate and Abusive Language
  • Star campaigners from various parties have used inappropriate and abusive language against leaders of opposing parties.
  • They have appealed to caste/communal feelings and made unsubstantiated allegations.
Understated Expenditure
  • Actual expenditure for rallies/meetings of star campaigners is often reported significantly lower than the real costs.
  • Possible reasons:
    • EC’s rate card doesn’t reflect current market rates.
    • Results in lower allocation of expenses to contesting candidates.

Measures to Maintain Decorum and Restraint in Campaigning

Empowerment of the Election Commission (EC)
  • Current Provision
    • RP Act allows political parties to appoint or revoke the appointment of star campaigners.
Proposed Change
  • Amend the law to allow the EC to revoke the ‘star campaigner’ status of a leader for serious violations of the Model Code of Conduct.
  • Article 324 of the Constitution designates the EC as the supreme authority for the superintendence and control of elections.
  • Aim: Instill a sense of responsibility among star campaigners and ensure campaigns adhere to necessary decorum and restraint.
Robust Assessment of Expenditure
  • Strengthen the assessment and allocation of rally/meeting expenses for campaigns involving star campaigners.
  • Ensure accurate reflection of the actual costs incurred.

-Source: The Hindu

May 2024