New Delhi: The upcoming elections in the country will be the most expensive the world has seen, surpassing the record $ 6.5 billion spent in the last US elections that brought Donald Trump to power.
1. In 2014, India had spent a staggering Rs $ 5 billion in the 2014 general elections and there is little doubt that the expenditure incurred this time around will surpass that, Milan Vaishnav, senior fellow and director of the South Asia Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace think-tank has said.
2. The Election Commission of India caps the limit of expenditure by a candidate but it is not applied to a political party.
3. The combined US presidential and congressional elections in 2016 cost $6.5 billion. If the 2014 Lok Sabha elections cost an estimated $5 billion, there is little doubt the 2019 election will easily surpass that – making India’s elections the world’s most expensive, Vaishnav wrote in an op-ed and quoted by news agency PTI.
4. “The uncertainty associated with the coming election-polls suggest a narrowing gap between the BJP and the opposition – only provides more fodder for an arms race in spending,” he said. Vaishnav has emerged as an authoritative voice on Indian elections, in particular the funding aspects of it, over the years.
5. The dates of the ensuing polls will is most likely to be announced next week. Apart from the Lok Sabha polls, assembly elections are scheduled for four states including Odisha.
6. A candidate can spend between Rs 50 lakh and Rs 70 lakh, depending on the state they are contesting the Lok Sabha election from. For all states, except Arunachal Pradesh, Goa and Sikkim, a candidate can spend a maximum of Rs 70 lakh on canvassing. For the assembly elections, the ceiling is between Rs 20 lakh and Rs 28 lakh.
7. Candidates have to keep a separate account and file the election expenses with the poll watchdog under the law. An incorrect account or expenditure beyond the cap can lead to disqualification for up to three years under Section 10A of the Representation of the People Act, 1951.
8. Vaishnav rued that in India there is virtually zero transparency when it comes to political contributions. It is next to impossible to either identify who has donated money to a politician or party or to figure out from where a politician has obtained his or her campaign funds, he said.
How Much India Spent In General Elections So Far?
9. According to The Hindustan Times, the total expenditure was equal to or less than Rs 10 crore for each of the first three general elections. The expenditure was less than Rs 100 crore until the eighth general election in 1984-85. It crossed Rs 500 crore for the first time during the 11th general election in 1996 and went beyond Rs 1,000 crore during the 14th general election in 2004.
10. The expenditure for the last Lok Sabha polls in 2014 at Rs 3,870 crore was three times more than the expenditure incurred for the 15th general election in 2009.