A survey conducted by the Centre for Media Studies (CMS), based out of New Delhi, has found that the recent elections in Karnataka were the “most expensive ever” assembly polls in terms of money spent by political parties and their candidates.
The survey claims that “the money spent by various political parties and their candidates in the Karnataka assembly polls is in the range of Rs 9,500-10,500 crore, which is more than twice of what was spent in the previous assembly poll in the state in 2013”.
“… at this rate, 2019 Lok Sabha poll expenditure estimate is Rs 50,000-60,000 crore against Rs 30,000 crore expenditure involved in 2014,” The Indian Express quoted N Bhaskara Rao of the CMS as saying.
On the other hand, a response to an RTI application filed by activist Anil Galgali has revealed astronomical figures of expenditure on publicity by the Modi government since it came to power in May 2014. The Bureau of Outreach Communication, an agency under the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, has informed that an expenditure of Rs 4,343 crore has been incurred on advertisements of the government programmes across media platforms.
The amount comprises expenditure of Rs 1732.15 crore on advertisements in the print media (from June 1, 2014 to December 7, 2017) and of Rs 2079.87 crore in the electronic media (from June 1, 2014 to March 31, 2018). A sum of Rs 531.24 crore was spent on outdoor publicity (June 2014 to January 2018), reported PTI.
With the Economic Survey 2018 hinting at the decreasing fiscal space to increase the expenditure on critical social infrastructures like education and health, the disbursement of funds for advertisement and political campaigns is one area where austerity is never heard of.
The publicity blitzkrieg of political parties just before elections is a well-known fact. Each year, an increase has been observed in individual expenditure during the electoral campaigns.
Cushioned with money and muscle, the subterranean campaign waged by the big national parties is making the field of politics more and more undemocratic for the people who choose to contest the elections by becoming the voice of the mute protests of the citizens.