BJP leader Sunny Deol has been pulled up over an undisclosed Facebook fan page just days ahead of the final phase of the Lok Sabha polls, with the Election Commissioner ordering that Rs 1.74 lakh be added to his election expenditure for failing to come clear on the matter.
The notification was issued to the actor-turned-politician on Wednesday, after he failed to respond to a query regarding the Facebook page - Fans of Sunny Deol - being run in his support. The Punjab Congress had filed a complaint on May 6 claiming that the Facebook page, which is full of campaign videos and photos of the BJP candidate from Gurdaspur, was being run without the election body's permission.
"An inquiry was conducted by the nodal officer of Media Certification and Monitoring Committee, Gurdaspur. A notice was also served to the admin of the ''Fans of Sunny Deol'' page as well as the BJP candidate seeking their explanation. But both failed to reply within the stipulated time frame," said Punjab Chief Electoral Officer S Karuna Raju. Consequently, the committee decided to add Rs 1,74,64 to the overall poll expenditure of the BJP candidate, he added.
A candidate for the Lok Sabha election in Punjab can spend a maximum of Rs 70 lakh.
The 62-year-old BJP candidate is the third Deol to join politics - and the BJP - after his father Dharmendra and stepmother Hema Malini, both yesteryears Bollywood superstars.
The Congress and the BJP have been sparring over the candidature of the former actor from Gurdaspur. Sunil Jakhar, sitting Congress lawmaker, who is pitted against Sunny Deol, had questioned his knowledge about the constituency and accused him of "lacking any understanding" of the issues faced by Punjab.
During his brief stint in politics about 10 years ago, Dharmendra had contested the 2004 national election from Rajasthan's Bikaner on a BJP ticket and won. Hema Malini is fighting for re-election from Uttar Pradesh's Mathura.
Gurdaspur has traditionally been a BJP stronghold. Actor-turned-politician Vinod Khanna won the parliamentary seat in 1998, 1999, 2004 and 2014. The Congress's Sunil Jakhar won the seat in the 2017 by-elections after his death.