LEGAL PROVISION FOR STAR CAMPAIGNERS (Syllabus: GS Paper 2 – Polity/Governance)

News-CRUX-10     23rd April 2024        

Context: Sunita Kejriwal, wife of the Delhi Chief Minister, was recently appointed as a 'star campaigner' by the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) for its campaign in Gujarat.

Legal Provisions Regarding Star Campaigners

  • Definition: Section 77 of the Representation of the People Act, 1951 (RP Act) defines 'leaders of a political party' as star campaigners.
  • Membership Requirement: Star campaigners, according to the RP Act, must be members of the political party that appoints them.
  • Maximum Number: A recognized national or State political party can appoint a maximum of 40 star campaigners.
  • A registered unrecognised political party can appoint up to 20 star campaigners.
  • Notification Requirement: The names of the star campaigners must be communicated to the Election Commission (EC) and Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) of the States within seven days from the date of notification of such election.
  • Multi-phase Election Provision: In the case of a multi-phase election, a political party can submit a separate list of star campaigners for different phases.
  • Single List for the Entire State: Despite the provision for separate lists for different phases, it is observed that all major parties provide a single list for a State that is applicable for all phases.

Benefits of the RP Act Provision

  • Exemption from Election Expenditure: 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.
  • Expenditure Limit for Candidates: The election expenditure limit for candidates is ₹95 lakh per Lok Sabha constituency in larger States and ₹75 lakh in smaller States.
  • Star Campaigners as Vote-fetchers: It would be vote-fetchers for candidates set up by respective parties without affecting their expenditure limit.
  • General Campaigning Provision: This is applicable only if the star campaigners limit themselves to general campaigning for the party.