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2024 Lok Sabha elections to be costliest ever, expenditure may rise to Rs. 1.35 lakh crore: Expert

With a voter base of 96.6 crore, the nation is currently undergoing 2024 Lok Sabha election. The voting for second phase to take place on Friday (April 26) and result will be declared on June 4.

Shubham Bajpai Edited By: Shubham Bajpai New Delhi Updated on: April 25, 2024 16:25 IST
Representative Photo
Image Source : FILE Representative Photo

The 2024 general elections for the 18th Lok Sabha are poised to break the earlier records to become the most expensive electoral event in the world, according to a poll expert. The estimated expenditure is expected to reach a staggering Rs 1.35 lakh crore, claimed N Bhaskara Rao, who chairs the Centre for Media Studies (CMS) and has been tracking election spending for 35 years. The figure is more than double as compared to expenditure in 2019. 

According to Rao, this comprehensive expenditure includes all the spending related to polls – direct or indirect–  encompassing that by political parties and organisations, candidates, the government and the Election Commission. In an interview with PTI, Rao said he revised the initially estimated expenditure from Rs 1.2 lakh crore to Rs 1.35 lakh crore, considering the electoral bond disclosures and accounting for all election-related expenses.

“Initially, we estimated the expenditure at Rs 1.2 lakh crore. However, post the electoral bond stake disclosures, we’ve revised the figure to Rs 1.35 lakh crore,” he said, adding that this estimate covered spending that took place 3-4 months before voting dates were announced. Rao emphasised that money flowed into the electoral process through various means beyond electoral bonds. 

Election Commission budget expected to be 10-15 per cent: Rao

The Election Commission’s budget to manage the polls is expected to be 10-15 per cent of the total expenditure projection while media campaigns across various platforms are predicted to account for 30 per cent of the total election spend, claimed Rao. “Pre-election activities are integral to campaign spending by parties and candidates, covering political rallies, transportation, hiring of workers including field and influencers and even the controversial horse-trading of political leaders,” Rao said.

“While visible spending is concentrated in the 45-day direct campaign period, the actual expenditure far exceeds this amount,” he added. In 2019, the CMS reported that the Bhartiya Janta Party accounted for 45 per cent of the total expenditure of Rs 60,000 crore, which Rao believes will increase in the 2024 elections. Apart from that, Rao identified six key trends in the ongoing general election -- prolonged pre-poll activities, affluent candidates dominating the fray, the ‘Mandi’ phenomenon of political crossovers, manipulation through various channels, lack of fair play, and the power dynamics favouring incumbents.

(With PTI Inputs)

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