Elections in the world’s biggest democracy have become the most expensive too.
Spending by political parties and candidates to woo 900 million voters in the just concluded polls cost them nearly Rs 60,000 crore ($8.7 billion), more than double of 2014 polls, according to the New Delhi-based Centre for Media Studies. The report, based on field studies, analysis and estimation, found that they spent Rs 700 per voter or nearly Rs 100 crore in each parliamentary constituency.
With some constituencies comprising as many as three million voters, equivalent to the population of Jamaica, candidates had to spend more for publicity and logistics and in some cases distributed cash for votes, according to the report. India’s poll panel prescribes a seven million-rupee ceiling on spending by a candidate.
About $6.5 billion was spent ‘during the US presidential and congressional races in 2016, according to OpenSecrets.org, which tracks money in American politics.
At this rate, expenditure in the next 2024 general election could cross Rs 1 trillion , said N. Bhaskara Rao, chairman of CMS.
“Mother of all corruption lies in the spiraling election expenditure,’’ said Rao. “If we are not able to address this, we can’t check corruption in India.’’