Karnataka polls most expensive ever: Survey

Karnataka polls most expensive ever: Survey

Voters show their Election Commission IDs before they cast their ballot during the polling day for the Karnataka Assembly election. PTI photo
Centre for Media Studies has described the electoral exercise as "money guzzler".
"This does not involve the costs of the prime minister’s campaign," the survey claimed.

The just-concluded Karnataka state elections were the "most expensive ever" assembly poll in the country in terms of money spent by political parties and their candidates, according to an analysis by a research organisation.

The Centre for Media Studies, which describes itself as a not-for-profit, multi-disciplinary development research and facilitative think-tank on its website, has described the electoral exercise as "money guzzler".

According to the CMS, the money spent by various political parties and their candidates in the Karnataka assembly polls is in the range of Rs 9,500-10,500 crore, which is more than twice of what was spent in the previous assembly poll in the state in 2013.

"This does not involve the costs of the prime minister’s campaign," the survey claimed.

Earlier field studies by the CMS over 20 years had indicated that poll costs in Karnataka were usually higher than assembly elections in most other states.

Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu, in that order, have been the highest poll-time spenders in the country, it said.

"... at this rate, 2019 Lok Sabha poll expenditure estimate is Rs 50,000-60,000 crore against Rs 30,000 crore expenditure involved in 2014," according to N Bhaskara Rao of the CMS.

The assembly poll in the state was announced by the Election Commission of India on May 2. The voting in the single-phase poll in the state took place on May 12 and the counting of votes is scheduled for tomorrow.

This Karnataka Assembly poll had increased the share of individual candidate's expenditure to 75 percent of total poll costs involved, the survey finds.

"In the case of Lok Sabha poll, the candidate share, however, is expected to be 55-60 percent and what political parties spend will increase to 29-30 percent, which is expected to be Rs 12,000-20,000 crore in 2019," the organisation said in a statement.

It claimed that half of what parties spend, or little over that, is likely to be that by the ruling party.

"The biggest story of this assembly election is about free and fairness of the poll. Seizer of a hundred crores could only be symbolical. The Election Commission came out helpless in this poll," the statement said.

It said the estimate of expenditure this time is also based on field reports in the media, feedback of journalists and discussions with key functionaries at different levels in the field.

"This poll expenditure methodology is based on using our own past base data state-wise and taking into account the percent of voters paid in different blocks of assembly constituencies and the amount paid on average by different parties, and what was spent on key campaign activities by candidates and parties at different levels. These were tracked and assessed from discussions," it said.