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As general elections draw closer, 'unaccounted money' may account for over one-third of total Rs 30,000 crore estimated to be spent on these polls, a study says.
The estimated Rs 30,000 crore total spending -- which includes official estimates for elections as also unaccounted money spent by parties and their candidates -- will be the highest ever amount utilised for any election in India.
While various national and regional parties are estimated to spend Rs 8,000-10,000 crore for the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, candidates at their individual level may spend a whopping amount of Rs 10,000-13,000 crore, as per the study conducted by research think-tank CMS. These figures include both official and unaccounted expenses.
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Talking about the findings of the study, CMS Chairman N Bhaskara Rao said that the estimated spending of about Rs 30,000 crore could include nearly one-third amount as 'unaccounted money', which are mostly being used for voter mobilisation and as 'note-for-vote'.
Government authorities, including the Election Commission (EC), are estimated to spend 7,000 crore-Rs 8,000 crore, while media campaigns by all stakeholders could account for Rs 6,000 crore to Rs 7,000 crore, the study said. The nine-phase Lok Sabha polls will take place between April 7 to May 12.
Other expenses include nominations, poll logistics and pre-poll expenditure by parties in power as well as money spent on government campaigns about elections.
"More money will flow as the poll dates come near. We have usually seen that vote-for-note trend picks up significant pace in the last 3-4 days leading to polls," said said Rao, who has been studying political campaigns for over four decades.
At about Rs 30,000 crore so far, LS 2014 poll spend per voter comes to about Rs 400 going by the 81.4 crore eligible voters expected to cast their franchise this year.
"Media campaigns usually account for 25 per cent of total spends. Pre-poll expenditure by parties in power (20-25 pc), voter mobilisation (10-12 pc), money to cadres (10-12 pc) and note-for-vote expenses (10-15 pc) also account for big chunks in the spending pie," he said.
The Rs 30,000 crore estimate for Rs 2014 is against Rs 10,000-12,000 crore in 2009, he stated, adding that the corresponding amount stood at a mere Rs 2,500 crore in 1996 Lok Sabha polls when CMS started tracking poll expenses.
"Increase in competitive politics is mostly responsible for this substantial rise in election expenditure. This could in turn be correlated to increasing corruption," said Rao.