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An Estimated Rs 60,000 Crore Spent in 2019 Lok Sabha Elections: CMS Report

The report released today by the Centre for Media Studies has estimated these elections as the most expensive elections held ever; BJP spent about 45% of the total expenditure.
Poll Expenditure

With an estimated Rs 60,000 crore front-end expenditure, the recently concluded 2019 Lok Sabha elections is the most expensive elections held ever, according to a report by Centre for Media Studies (CMS), a premier research organisation.

The report estimated that Rs 700 per vote was spent and on an average, nearly Rs 100 crore per Lok Sabha constituency was spent in these elections.

The methodology for estimation was based on a PEE approach (Perceptions, Experiences and Estimation) of enquiry, a method evolved by CMS for estimating corruption in India over years. Key sources for the estimation included campaign activities by parties and candidates, voters’ observation in select constituencies, secondary data on demographic divides, field study and media coverage among others.

Also read: Elections 2019: EC Says Electoral Bonds to have Serious Impact on Transparency

While CMS had estimated Rs 30,000 crore as poll expenditure in the 2014 elections, the figure has doubled this time, making Indian elections as the costliest elections ever in the world.

Poll Expenditure in 2019 Lok Sabha

Source: CMS Analysis & Estimation

“The BJP spent about 20% in 1998 against about 45% in 2019 out of the total poll expenditure estimate...In 2009, the Congress’ share was 40% of total expenditure, against 15 to 20% in 2019,” the report stated.

CMS found that the leaders of the opposing parties were accusing each other of receiving anonymous grants which were spent in the elections. For example, “Telugu Desam Party was alleged to have spent Rs 10,000 crore. YSR Congress Party was alleged to have received Rs 1,000 crore from Telangana Rashtra Samithi and Rs 500 crore from BJP. There were several instances of key party functionaries referring to the amount spent by own party, how much voters were paid and how much all parties together had spent. All this was in news media for public consumption,” stated the report.

The report was released today, June 2, at the India International Centre (IIC), New Delhi, during a round table discussion on ‘Electoral Reforms Required for Curtailing Rising Costs of Elections in Our Country’. Former Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) of India S Y Quraishi, former IPS officer D R Kaarthikeyan and CMS founder N Bhaskar Rao were among the participants in the discussion. Quraishi, in his tenure as CEC had established an ‘expenditure monitoring department’ in the election commission. Commenting on the report, he said, “Money power has assumed new dimensions in these elections,” and added that the electoral bonds system brought in by the BJP government are an “unmitigated disaster” as far as poll expenditure is concerned.

S.No Head Percent Amount (Rs. In Crores)
1 Voter Directly  20-25 12000-15000
2 Campaign/Publicity 30-35 20000-25000
3 Logistics 8-10 5000-6000
4 Formal/ECI 15-20 10000-12000
5 Miscellaneous 5-10 3000-6000
  Total:    55000-60000

Source: CMS Analysis & Estimation

As per the report, around Rs 12,000-15000 crore was distributed to the voters directly, Rs 20,000- 25,000 crore was spent on publicity, Rs 5,000-6,000 crore on logistics, Rs 10,000-12,000 crore on formal expenditure and Rs 3,000-6,000 crore was spent for miscellaneous purposes.

(Illustrations by Peeyush Sharma)

Read more: Electoral Bonds: Experts Scoff at Modi Govt’s Claims of Transparency in Political Funding

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