Vote-buying season is here

Cashing in: With no sure winner in sight, parties and candidates are in a race to outspend rivals to win

Election campaign

ANDHRA PRADESH

The elections in Andhra Pradesh will be multi-cornered. Telugu Desam chief N Chandrababu Naidu and opposition leader Y S Jaganmohan Reddy are using all weapons in their arsenal to win these elections held concurrently for Assembly and Lok Sabha. The entry of actor turned politician Pawan Kalyan might spring few surprises here and there. A section of voters are lured with cash and cheap liquor bottle. It is said that parties have already parked the cash in all constituencies. The standard payment is Rs 500 per person for political campaigns and public meetings which is topped up by a food packet and free transportation. All the expenditure of public meetings and campaign coverage in local cable TV are to be borne by the local candidate with a share from LS candidate.

It is estimated that main parties are likely to pour anywhere between Rs 2,000 crore and Rs 2,500 crore for the entire state. The average expenditure for each LS candidate is estimated at around Rs 50 crore. The Assembly candidates also share a part of the Rs 50 crore spent by the LS candidate in his or her segment. Other than the party funding, few political parties reportedly asked the 175 Assembly candidates and 25 LS candidates to deposit certain amount in advance to tackle the ever growing poll expenditure.

Average spending by candidates per seat: Rs 75 crore

Average spending by parties per seat: Rs 25 crore

Overall for the state: Rs 2,500 cr

 

BIHAR

Distribution of cash and liquor in certain pockets on poll-eve has been a routine feature since years in this part of the cow-belt. But it may not be so this parliamentary election. Reason: the year 2016 brought two dramatic changes. First, prohibition was enforced in April 2016. Second, demonetisation followed the same year in November. So, while liquor flowed like municipal water during every election, it may not be so in this dry state this time. Similarly, with curbs on black money, the lure of lucre may not give diminishing returns. This time, a candidate in Bihar is likely to spend around Rs 10 crore in his parliamentary constituency besides the party.

Average spending by candidates per seat: Rs 20 crore

Average spending by parties per seat: Rs 5 crore

Overall for the state: Rs 1,000 cr

 

CHHATTISGARH

Chhattisgarh, after its separation from Madhya Pradesh in 2000, has emerged as one of the most prosperous small states in India. Rice millers, Tendu leaf traders and mine owners are major financiers for candidates for both the BJP and Congress. Bureaucrats, who have thrived in 15 years of corrupt BJP rule, also contribute significantly to illegitimate poll expenditures on bribing voters. Maoist leaders in south Chhattisgarh extort the candidates’ money running in to several crores of rupees.

For the coming polls, an average Rs 10 crore is estimated to be spent in each of the 11 parliamentary seats. Raipur, the capital and commercial hub of the state, is likely to see costliest election in Chhattisgarh. In other, relatively backward, seats such as Sarguja, Bastar, Kanker and Korba spending on wooing voters is moderate by the Raipur standard. Over Rs 110 crore for 11 seats is estimated spending in the 2019 elections.

Average spending by candidates per seat: Rs 8 crore

Average spending by parties per seat: Rs 2 cr

Overall for the state: Rs 110 cr

 

GOA

Elections in the tiny tourism state for Goa is very interesting - and street corner meetings play an important role in garnering votes. Goa has just two seats - North Goa and South Goa. The expenses by political parties and candidates are nearly Rs 30 to 35 crore per seat. The expenses thus for the state is of the order of Rs 70 crore plus.

Average spending by candidates per seat: Rs25 crore

Average spending by parties per seat: Rs 10 crore

Overall for the state: Rs 70 crore

 

GUJARAT

Gujarat has seen bipolar contest between BJP and Congress for over two decades. Both BJP and Congress are set to use all their might by spending heavily on booth level workers and distributing cash for votes. As per estimates, in urban seats at
least Rs 10 crore is spent while the number goes down to Rs 6 crore in rural seats. There are at least six seats which fall under highly urbanised category and the spending will be nearly Rs 120 crore while on rest of the seats the expense would be nearly Rs 240 crore. Roughly, the total money spent in the state comes to nearly Rs 360 crore this time. About 80% of this amount is spent by the candidates.

Average spending by candidates per seat: Rs 22 crore

Average spending by parties per seat: Rs 3 crore

Overall for the state: Rs 360 cr

 

HARYANA

Haryana with 10 Lok Sabha seats is set for a direct contest between the BJP and the Congress although others like INLD, ‘Jannayak Janata Party’ of Dushyant Chautala and AAP will pose some challenge. Besides usual forms of electioneering through rallies, social media, banners, food, transport etc, candidates spend massive amounts on the voters essentially in the form of cash doles, on liquor and to buy and cement the voter base.

Spending could be anywhere between Rs 10 crore and Rs 15 crore per seat per candidate. Rates vary depending upon the high-stakes and the degree of contest on each seat. Cash is paid to buy voters who are ‘fence sitters.’ The two candidates of mainstream parties would end up spending a total of between Rs 20 to Rs 25 crore per seat, it is estimated besides the money spent by the parties. Overall spending for the 10 seats in the state: Rs 250 crore.

Average spending by candidates per seat: Rs 15 crore

Average spending by parties per seat: Rs 5 crore

Overall for the state: Rs 200 cr

 

HIMACHAL PRADESH

The Himalayan hill state of Himachal Pradesh is poised for a direct fight between the ruling BJP and the Congress. It has four Lok Sabha seats, and BJP won all of them in 2014. Spending by political parties is far less in HP as compared to other states. Spending by a candidate of a mainstream political party ranges between Rs 3 crore and Rs 7 crore per seat. Inducements include liquor, cash payments to buy votes, on getting voters for rallies. Huge amounts of cash are given to mandals and associations active in segments and they act as pressure groups to influence voters. Two candidates of mainstream parties would accordingly end up spending around Rs 12 crore per seat.

Average spending by candidates per seat: Rs10 crore

Average spending by parties per seat: Rs 2 crore

Overall for the state: Rs 50 crore

 

JAMMU AND KASHMIR

With major political parties in Jammu and Kashmir annoyed with Election Commission’s decision to defer the Assembly polls in the state, there is less enthusiasm among the leaders and voters the Lok Sabha elections. The prevailing unrest in the Kashmir Valley will also deter parties from holding big rallies during campaigning. Under these circumstances, there is every possibility that the parties may not spend as much money as they would have liked to, in the Lok Sabha elections. Though providing cash and kind to buy votes in Kashmir is no secret, the spending is expected to be lesser than 2014.

Despite all the issues and problems, candidates of bigger parties like PDP, National Conference, Congress and BJP are said to spend anywhere between Rs 2 crore and Rs 5 crore for each candidate in each of the six Lok Sabha constituencies. Total amount spent in each constituency could be anywhere between Rs 12 crore and Rs 24 crore by four candidates of the four major parties. So, even if we take Rs 20 crore as the average total money spent per seat, the total money spent for the state would be around 120 crore.

Average spending by candidates per seat: Rs 15 crore

Average spending by parties per seat: Rs 5 crore

Overall for the state: Rs 120 cr

 

JHARKHAND

Though the Election Commission has stipulated that a candidate contesting Lok Sabha election can spend a maximum amount of Rs 70 lakh in this constituency, the actual amount spent is much higher in tribal-dominated Jharkhand, ruled by the BJP. Rich in terms of mines, minerals and industries, Jharkhand is an industrial state although majority of its population, comprising SC/STs, remain extremely poor. It is this section of the people who decide the winner – and whom parties target to distribute largess - in at least 10 out of total 14 Lok Sabha seats.

“It’s an undeniable fact that all political parties woo tribals in Jharkhand with cash and liquor on the eve of polling. The local labourers, including women, who love ‘Hadiya’ (indigenously prepared rice beer), wait for India-made foreign liquor (IMFL) to be disbursed along with chicken and cash before polling day,” said one of the prominent leader who contested 2014 Lok Sabha election. According to a rough estimate, the money spent by candidates per seat would be Rs 20 crore to Rs 30 crore and the total for the state would be around Rs 430 crore.

Average spending by candidates per seat: Rs 25 crore

Overall for the state: Rs 430 cr

 

KARNATAKA

Karnataka will see, for the first time in 30 years, a two-way fight as the Congress and JD(S) have joined hands to take on the BJP. Besides cash for votes, political parties will have to spend on liquor, organising public rallies, publicity materials, logistics and so on. According to sources, parties will have to spend anywhere between Rs 10,000 and Rs 30,000 on every booth (there are over 57,000 booths in the state). Ultimately, a candidate/party will have to spend Rs 10 crore – Rs 15 crore in every constituency.

So, even if we are to say that the two main candidates spend Rs 30 crore in a constituency, this would amount to at least Rs 840 crore for the entire state. In addition, parties spend Rs 10 crore each per seat, which means the two parties would spend Rs 20 crore per seat. This would come to Rs 560 crore. So, overall spending would be Rs 1,400 crore.

Average spending by candidates per seat: Rs 30 crore

Average spending by parties per seat: Rs 20 crore

Overall for the state: Rs 1,400 cr

 

KERALA

Unlike the previous elections in which the contest in Kerala were mainly between Congress-led UDF and CPM-led LDF, the state will now witness triangular fights in many constituencies with BJP pinning high hopes in the backdrop of and to take advantage of, the Sabarimala issue. Hence parties will be compelled to spend more to woo voters. Generally, compared to other parties, Congress spends more. Directly bribing voters is not prevalent much in Kerala, except in some remote tribal hamlets. Some candidates used to pay cash to prominent party leaders and dissident local leaders to attend campaign meetings. Thiruvananthapuram may see high spends this time. Liquor supply is normally rampant during electioneering. Spending by candidates of the two main fronts and BJP is likely to be around Rs 20 crore per seat. So, for 20 constituencies, the spending may come to around Rs 400 crore by the candidates and the parties some Rs 100 crore.

Average spending by candidates per seat:Rs 20 crore

Average spending by parties per seat: Rs 5 crore

Overall for the state: Rs 500 cr

 

MADHYA PRADESH

Compared to the Southern states, elections in Madhya Pradesh are far less expensive. Splurge by political parties and their candidates varies
from one constituency to another. In Indore, the commercial capital of the state, this election could involve as much as Rs 100 crore including spending by the BJP and Congress rivals. However, in tribal seats such as Mandla, Shahdol and Dhar, allurement cost is much cheaper. Chhindwara, which sent Chief Minister Kamal Nath to Lok Sabha nine times, is regarded as witness to the most extravagant elections since 1980.

Liquor and sarees are two most standard forms of voting-eve bribery. More expensive gifts, often in cash, are reserved for party workers and supposed influencers of the regions. For the 29 seats, the expenditure could be Rs 900 crore or Rs 30 crore for each constituency. Chhindwara, where the CM’s businessman son Nakul has started campaign, is likely to retain the reputation as the most expensive election arena.

Average spending by candidates per seat: Rs 25 crore

Average spending by parties per seat: Rs 5 crore

Overall for the state: Rs 900 cr

 

MAHARASHTRA

From millions of cups of ‘chai’ to hiring white-colour cars and SUVs to chartering helicopters, fielding dummy candidates and roping in celebrities, electioneering in Maharashtra is a costly affair. The expenses per candidate in a constituency could be between Rs 30 crore and Rs 40 crore or close to Rs 80 crore per seat from two candidates. With the parties also spending money, the total money spent for all the 48 seats be around Rs 4,500 crore. Most of the money spent is in cash. Big leaders have to generate most of the funds while the respective parties help the weak candidates. Political experts say that the planning starts almost a year ahead when they start visiting events like Ganesh puja and Navratri among others.

Average spending by candidates per seat: Rs 70 crore

Average spending by parties per seat: Rs 20 crore

Overall for the state: Rs 4,500 cr

 

ODISHA

It will be a triangular contest between BJD, BJP and the Congress for 21 Lok Sabha and 147 assembly constituencies in Odisha. In every Parliament constituency, principal candidates including the parties are expected to spend Rs 10 crore to Rs 15 crore each. The total spend for the state may come to Rs 315 crore. Parties/candidates will mostly be spending on organising rallies, public meetings, road shows, crowd gathering, banners and hoardings, transportation expenses etc besides distribution of cash and gifts for voters in some limited pockets if not the entire state.

Average spending by candidates per seat: Rs 10 crore

Average spending by parties per seat: Rs 5 crore

Overall for the state: Rs 315 cr

 

PUNJAB

Punjab with 13 seats is poised for a multi-cornered contest among
Congress, SAD-BJP, AAP and newly formed rebel outfits out of SAD and AAP. Money flows essentially in cash, on liquor, on drugs, synthetic drugs and paid news to lure voters. During the 2017 assembly polls, total seizure of cash, liquor, drugs worth Rs 127 crore was made.

That was just what was caught while the spending may have been colossal. Spending by mainstream candidates could be in excess of Rs 15 crore per seat per candidates.

Candidates would end up spending a total of around Rs 35 crore per seat besides the money spent by parties. Money spent on voters gets distributed in cash while liquor and drugs flow freely. A lot of cash is given to buy ‘saleable voters’ at the last minute. So, total money spent for 13 seats of Punjab would be Rs 400 crore.

Average spending by candidates per seat: Rs 35 crore

Average spending by parties per seat: Rs 10 crore

Overall for the state: Rs 600 cr

RAJASTHAN

The desert state of Rajasthan has managed to keep its election fervour intact after the recent assembly polls in which Congress party won 100 (out of 200) seats. Since Rajasthan is the largest states of India, one of the major expenses will include travel expenses of voters, transportation to the places of rallies apart from the publicity material, social media cost. In rural areas, free meals is arranged by most of the candidates.

Total money spent by each candidate will be around Rs 30 and per seat Rs 60 crore including money spent by the party. So, for the entire state (25 seats), the amount spent may come to Rs 1250 crore.

Average spending by candidates per seat: Rs 40 crore

Average spending by parties per seat: Rs 10 crore

Overall for the state: Rs 1,250 cr

 

TAMIL NADU

Tamil Nadu (39 seats) will be a major election without its charismatic leaders J Jayalalithaa and M Karunanidhi for the first time. Both DMK and AIADMK have stitched together formidable alliances. Apart from distributing cash for votes, the spending would be on organising rallies, mobilising crowds, organising transport and social media campaigns as well banners and cut-outs. Gifts for voters are distributed party workers.

This election, candidates are also planning to spend huge amount on buying out independent candidates to prevent them from contesting to avoid vote split. Total amount spent in each constituency could be in excess of Rs 30 crore by one candidate/party. For two main candidates, the money spent for one seat can be taken at Rs 60 crore.

So, even if we take Rs 60 crore as the money spent per seat, the same would be at least Rs 2,340 crore to Rs 2,500 crore for the entire state.

Average spending by candidates per seat: Rs 50 crore

Average spending by parties per seat: Rs 10 crore

Overall for the state: Rs 2,400 cr

 

TELANGANA

In K Chandrasekhar Rao’s (KCR) Telangana, the opposition parties are wary of spending money like they used to. The ruling Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) is in full force with its
recent success in Assembly, Council and Sarpanch elections. The main
battle is between the TRS and Congress. In Telangana Rs 2,000 note is the most sought after. With Rs 1,000 no longer in circulation and Rs 500 bundles are cumbersome and risky to transport , Rs 2,000 and “a packet of Biryani”, spiced up with small bottle of liquor, is the ongoing rate for a vote in Telangana.

The bar rises every year in Telangana with the political parties vying to get an assurance from the voters. Close to Rs 50 crore is being spent by every candidate on each Lok Sabha seat.

Most of the money is spent on hiring people to attend public meetings, walkathons and road shows. Around Rs 500 is given per person along with three meals and alcohol for joining the campaign.

Average spending by candidates per seat: Rs 75 crore

Average spending by parties per seat: Rs 25 crore

Overall for the state: Rs 1,700 cr

 

UTTAR PRADESH

With 80 seats at stake, Uttar Pradesh is witnessing a fierce political battle. With these massive number of seats enough to make or mar electoral fortunes of any party, the Samajwadi Party, BSP and Rashtriya Lok Dal have formed a grand alliance which is pitted against the BJP-led NDA and Congress. A recent report said that political parties spent Rs 5,500 crore in UP assembly polls in 2017 on campaigning. It also said that Rs 1,000 crore was spent for “note for vote”. Since the LS constituencies in the state are vast and have huge number of voters, the candidates have to spend a lot on hiring vehicles, paying for fuel, manpower, erection of stages for rallies and other events, arrange food for their supporters engaged in campaigning. Even a conservative estimate would put the expenditure per constituency by each candidate anywhere between Rs 15 crore and 20 crore. Add another Rs 2-3 crore by each party per seat, per constituency the expenditure would be about Rs 55-60 crore. For the whole state, with 80 seats, the spending would be Rs 4,500 crore.

Average spending by candidates per seat: Rs 55 crore

Average spending by parties per seat: Rs 6 crore

Overall for the state: Rs 4,500 cr

 

UTTARAKHAND

Though there are only five Lok Sabha seats in Uttarakhand, the contestants here do not seem to lag behind others in terms of expenditure during the polls. What may, however, distinguish Uttarakhand from other states is the free flow of liquor during elections. The expenditure by each of the contestants and parties per Lok Sabha seat in Uttarakhand could be anywhere between Rs 4 and 5 crore. A significant amount of this includes expenditure on liquor. So, total for one seat would be Rs 10 crore and for 5 seats, the spend for the state could be Rs 50 crore.

Average spending by candidates per seat: Rs 8 crore

Average spending by parties per seat: Rs 2 crore

Overall for the state: Rs 50 cr

 

WEST BENGAL

West Bengal is expected to witness a three-cornered battle if the alliance between Left Front and Congress materialises. Although the phenomenon of cash-for-vote is not much prevalent in the state, the four main parties have to spend significant amounts for campaigning, transport and other political activities. The spending in each constituency depends on the party – the Left parties are known to spend the least. Total spending from all candidates may go up to Rs 8 crore per seat. For 42 seats, the spend comes to Rs 330 crore.

Average spending by candidates per seat: Rs 6 crore

Average spending by parties per seat: Rs 2 crore

Overall for the state: Rs 330 cr

 

DELHI

The run up to the elections to seven Lok Sabha seats will be keenly watched. One thing that will be watched in the coming days will be whether Congress and AAP would enter into a coalition, which would not be to the liking of BJP that dreams of a 7-0 repeat. As in elections else where, parties will be spending money in organising rallies and corner meetings, social media and other publicity outreach, banners and posters. Parties may not distribute money to individual voters in large-scale but they would be paying strongmen in particular localities, especially in slums. In some areas, alcohol also will flow on the eve of elections. On an average, a candidate of a prominent party is likely to spend Rs 15 crore. In a constituency like North-East Delhi, it can go up by a couple of crores of rupees while in a seat like Chandni Chowk or New Delhi, it can go down. Total amount spent may vary if Congress-AAP fail to come to an understanding to fight polls.

Average spending by candidates per seat: Rs 20 crore

Average spending by parties per seat: Rs 5 crore

Overall for the state: Rs175 cr

 

NORTH-EAST

Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Sikkim and Tripura

Parties in the North-East do not spend money like water as many other states do. However, the trend has of luring voters with cash has picked up. Eight states of the North-East have 25 LS seats, of which 14 are in Assam. Workers of different parties say spending in each constituency would easily be Rs 4-5 crore per candidate/party. So the spending for the 25 seats is pegged at around Rs 250 crore. Use of liquor, particularly among voters in Assam’s tea gardens, is rampant. As tea garden votes play decisive role in at least three seats in Assam, parties and candidates work out budget for distribution of liquor. The problem is less in state like Mizoram, where the strong civil society groups and NGOs keep vigil and act tough against use of money and liquor for buying votes. Both money and the muscle power (militant groups), play the tricks for candidates contesting elections in Manipur, Nagaland and parts of Assam and Meghalaya.

Average spending by candidates per seat: Rs 8 crore

Average spending by parties per seat: Rs 2 crore

Overall for the state: Rs 250 cr

 

UNION TERRITORIES

Chandigarh , Puducherry, Daman and Diu, Dadra and Nagar Haveli, Lakshadweep, Andaman and Nicobar (A&N) Islands

 
Almost all these constituencies have a mix of mix of urban and rural population. Money and liquor flow freely to buy votes and win over ‘fence sitters’ waiting for last minute offers. One of these seats has vast number of slums and ‘colony settlements’ amid an 
affluent metropolitan set up of urban elite. Money rolls out for voters in villages and slums. As regards Chandigarh and Puducherry, both are bracing themselves up for high-voltage campaigning.

As regards coastal seats, the sizeable population of fishermen and besides tribals are lured by the parties with cash and liquor. One of these seats witnessed a close fight between BJP and Congress in 2014 Lok Sabha election – so from this angle, election will be fought closely this time. In a constituency like Lakshwadeep, major expense involved for candidates is for travelling between the 10 islands.

This also true of A & N Islands. In these two seats, trends like bribing voters are not prevalent much, especially since the chances of being caught are quite high as the funds have to be transported through sea. Maximum spending is on posters and campaign materials.

Money spent in these seats may range vastly – from as low as Rs 70 lakh per candidate to as high as Rs 20 crore per candidate. So, for the six LS seats in the Union Territories, candidates are expected to spend Rs 75 crore and parties another Rs 35 crore.

Average spending by candidates per seat: Rs 12 crore

Average spending by parties per seat: Rs 6 crore

Overall for the state: Rs 18 cr

Narendra Modi or Rahul Gandhi? Who will win the battle royale of the Lok Sabha Elections 2019


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