The world, including India, maybe facing a severe economic crisis but it seems that the Indian political parties are immune to the global economic slowdown. According to a recently released survey of Centre for Media Studies, around Rs 10,000 crores (USD 2 billion) will be spent on Lok Sabha Polls 2009. This does not include the cost of conducting assembly polls in Andhra Pradesh and Orissa.
What is surprising here is that the amount to be spent (USD 2 billion) is more than what US President Barack Obama and other presidential candidates spent on their campaigns.
The data provided by the US Federal Election Commission states that Obama and other candidates collectively spent close to $1.8 billion (nearly Rs 8,000 crores) in the 2007-08 Presidential elections. While the US presidential polls were spread over a year, India will witness such massive spending in just over two months.
A close look at the break-up of Poll and Poll-Eve Expenditure provided by the CMS throws one interesting figure.
- Govt ( EVMs, Booths, TA, DA, etc.): Rs 1500 – 2000 crores
- Canvassing (Vehicles, aircrafts, fuel, workers, etc.): Rs 3000 – 3500 crores
- Printed material of all kinds (Posters, banners, advertising, poll surveys, etc of all kind at all levels): Rs 1500 – 2000 crores
- Other media (Video, audio, cable, cinema, SMS, TV advertising etc.): Rs 1200 – 1500 crores
- Miscellaneous (public meetings, wages, inter-personal, rallies, etc.): Rs 1000 – 1500 crores
- Cash paid to voters: Rs 2000 – 2500 crores
As the figures show, around one-fourth of the total money to be spent comes under the ‘note for vote’ strategy of political parties. The parties will pay around Rs 2000 – 2500 crores to the voters in the hope that they would vote for them.
The CMS data further indicates that in comparison to 2004 Lok Sabha polls spending, the amount to be spent this year would be more than double. While Rs 4500 crores were spent in 2004 parliamentary elections, the 1998 and 1996 general elections has cost the country Rs 3200 crores and Rs 2100-2200 crores.