Star Campaigner Rules

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Appointment of Star Campaigners

  • Sunita Kejriwal was appointed as a star campaigner for AAP’s campaign in Gujarat.
  • Star campaigners are designated by political parties for their election campaigns.
  • Section 77 of the Representation of the People Act, 1951 (RP Act) allows for the appointment of star campaigners, with a limit of 40 for recognised political parties and 20 for registered unrecognised parties.
  • These star campaigners are typically top leaders or celebrities who are part of the political party.
  • Political parties must communicate the list of star campaigners to the Election Commission (EC) and Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) within seven days of the election notification.

Benefits of Star Campaigners

  • The expenditure incurred by star campaigners for travel during campaigning is not counted as part of the election expenditure of candidates.
  • The expenditure limit for Lok Sabha constituencies is ₹95 lakh in larger States and ₹75 lakh in smaller States.
  • This exclusion from expenditure limits is only valid if star campaigners do not campaign explicitly for individual candidates. If they do, the related expenses must be added to the candidate’s election expenditure.
  • Other factors that may affect the inclusion of star campaigner-related expenses into a candidate’s election expenditure include boarding/lodging expenses incurred while campaigning for specific candidates, and travel expenses if candidates accompany star campaigners.

Issues with Star Campaigners

  • The Election Commission advises political parties to maintain decorum during campaigns and focus on issues.
  • Star campaigners from various political parties have been found guilty of using inappropriate language, appealing to caste or communal sentiments, and making unsubstantiated allegations.
  • In some cases, the EC has removed individuals from the list of star campaigners for violating the Model Code of Conduct, but the Supreme Court has stayed these orders, indicating that the EC may not have the authority to do so.
  • The assessment and apportionment of expenditure for star campaigner rallies are often lower than actual costs due to outdated rate cards used by the EC.

Proposed Solutions

  • The RP Act could be amended to give the EC the power to revoke the star campaigner status if there are severe violations of the Model Code of Conduct.
  • This change could instil a sense of responsibility among star campaigners and ensure better adherence to campaign decorum.
  • The assessment and apportionment of expenses for rallies and meetings involving star campaigners should be more accurate, reflecting current market rates to ensure fair allocation of expenses to candidates.

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