New Delhi: In order to keep a check on illegal expenditure during polls, the Election Commission has issued fresh directives refraining candidates from attending "community kitchens" or 'bhoj' during campaigning.

The EC's directive has come into force with immediate effect as it has asked the Chief Electoral Officer of Haryana to implement the order for the October 13 Lok Sabha bypolls in Hisar.

The order will also be valid for the assembly polls in Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Manipur next year.

"In order to bring purity in the election process, the Commission hereby directs that if any contesting candidate attends such community kitchen (in whatever name it is called) either organised by him or by any other person to entertain the electors, the entire expenditure on such functions will be treated as his election expenses and added to his account," the EC order said.

"It is reported to the Commission that community kitchens, known in local terms as 'preetibhoj', '36 biradariyon ka khana', 'gaon zeemana', 'saya' among others are being organised during the period of election campaign and many electors are entertained with free food at such kitchens.

"...since the period happens to be campaign period of the ongoing bye-election (in Hisar) and the model code of conduct is in force, the contesting candidates should refrain from
attending such functions, even though such type of community kitchens may be a convention in the area," the EC said.

In a case where the candidate attends such a community kitchen, he/she will have to reflect the entire expenditure of such an event as his expenditure on the shadow register mandated by the EC to be maintained in this regard.

The EC has activated its Election Expenditure Monitoring (EEM) cell set up last year when it had announced a slew of measures to keep a check on use of blackmoney.

(Agencies)