Bank transfers become tool to lure voters: study

Referring to the transfer of Rs 2,000 installment to farmers as part of assured income scheme and then TDP-led Andhra Pradesh government's two schemes, it said for the first time it is confirmed that bank transfer of money on the eve of poll has "become a new route to lure voters" in the name of one or more schemes. (AFP File Photo. For representation purpose)

For the first time, bank transfers have officially become a tool to lure voters on the poll eve, a study has claimed.

It also said that the introduction of electoral bonds and removal of ceiling on corporate contribution among other things has increased poll expenditure in this Lok Sabha elections.

The Centre for Media Studies' (CMS) report estimated the 2019 Lok Sabha poll expenditure at Rs 55-60,000 crore but said this could actually rise if one adds spending like those on election-oriented advertisement and rallies before the Election Commission announced the poll schedule and production cost of biopics.

Referring to the transfer of Rs 2,000 installment to farmers as part of assured income scheme and then TDP-led Andhra Pradesh government's two schemes, it said for the first time it is confirmed that bank transfer of money on the eve of poll has "become a new route to lure voters" in the name of one or more schemes.

The report 'Poll Expenditure: The 2019 Elections' also said that another factor that contributed for increased poll expenditure were the government initiated changes like the introduction of electoral bonds to facilitate contribution by corporates for poll funding in anonymity, removal of ceiling on corporate contribution (up to 7.5% of three-year average profits) and allowing contribution of foreign corporate for campaigns".

Referring to Andhra Pradesh, the report claimed that more than half of the voters in four of the 13 districts were paid Rs 1,000-2,000 during the election season. In 75-85 Assembly seats in the state, it claimed, around one lakh voters per constituency were distributed money directly or through middlemen.

"About Rs 7,000-9,000 crore were distributed during the 2019 poll campaign for (Andhra Pradesh) Assembly and Lok Sabha elections. This does not include what some candidate had paid for getting the nomination of the party," the report said.

Citing examples, it said, it was not that voter demands but competition between candidates which dictates how much is distributed.

In one specific constituency, the report said, "a voter was given Rs 2,000 at one place and Rs 7,000 at another place. The sitting candidate of a different party paid between Rs 1,000-5,000. 'Competitor compulsions' was a new phenomenon for hiking the rate in this election," it said.

The CMS estimate for Telangana claimed that Rs 5,000 crore was spent during the Assembly elections late last year and this resulted in lesser expenditure (Rs 350-400 crore) in Lok Sabha polls in the state this time.

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