Does the election expenses limit have any meaning?

The election commission has upped the expense limit for Lok Sabha elections from Rs40 lakh to Rs70 lakh per candidate in big states. But 129 or 30% out of 437 MPs spent Rs14.62 lakh or 59% of the expense limit during the last general election

The Indian government has cleared a proposal by Election Commission to increase the expenditure limit for Lok Sabha elections to Rs70 lakh from Rs40 lakh per candidate in big states. But does it have anything to do with the reality? During the last general election, about 129 members of Parliament (MPs) declared election expenses of less than 50% of expense limit. This raises a question on the need to increase expenditure limit without taking into consideration the blatant misuse of black money in elections.

 

According to an analysis by Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) and National Election Watch (NEW), out of 437 MPs who submitted their election expenditure statements, on an average MPs spent of Rs14.62 lakh or about 59% of the average expense limit in 2009.

 

Professor Trilochan Sastry, founder of ADR, said, “Raising the ceiling does not address the real issues. We need more transparency in the funding and source of funding, along with penalties for not being transparent. Everyone knows about the huge amount of black money in elections. We need to curb this blatant misuse of black money in elections. In summary, none of the major concerns are addressed by the Cabinet decision to raise the ceiling.”

 


The government has raised the expenditure limit to Rs70 lakh for each Lok Sabha constituency in bigger states like Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal and Karnataka, and to Rs54 lakh from Rs22 lakh in smaller states like Goa on par with other hilly and north eastern states. The government also cleared the proposal to raise expenditure limits for assembly elections, with a maximum of Rs28 lakh and a minimum of Rs20 lakh in North Eastern and hill states.

 

The election expenditure statements submitted by MPs include details of expenses on public meeting and processions, campaigning through electronic and print media, expense on campaign workers, expenses on vehicles used and expense on campaign materials.

 

1. Less than 50% of the Limit: Candidates have constantly claimed that the election expenditure limit set is very low. However, based on the election expense declarations of 437 MPs analysed from Lok Sabha, 2009 to the Election Commission, 129 MPs (30%) have declared election expenses of less than 50% of the expense limit in their constituency.

 

2. Average Election Expenses: Based on the election expense declarations of 437 MPs from Lok Sabha 2009 to the ECI, the average amount of money spent by them in the elections is only about Rs14.62 lakh, which is 59% of the expense limit.

 

3. Election Expenses funded by Political Parties: 317 MPs (73%) declared that in the expenditure incurred by them, none of it was funded by the political party which fielded him/her. 120 MPs (27%) declared that a part of their election expenditure was funded by the political party and out of these, 15 MPs (3%) declared that all of their expenditure was funded by the political party which fielded him/her.

 

4. Party-wise Election Expenses funded by Political Parties:  Among the MPs who were funded (partially or fully) by political parties, 35 MPs from BJP had declared an average funding from the political party of Rs5.08 lakh (36% of their average election expenditure). 30 MPs from INC have declared an average funding from the political party of Rs5.61 lakh (36% of their average election expenditure).

 

5. Expenditure more than the Expense Limit: Two MPs declared election expenditure more than the prescribed expense limit. Premdas of SP from Etawah Constituency, Uttar Pradesh declared an election expenditure of Rs57.39 lakh (230% of the expense limit) and Akhilesh Yadav of SP from Kannauj Constituency with expenses of Rs26.73 lakhs (107% of the expense limit).

 


6. State-wise Average Election Expenses:  The highest average election expenditure declared in a state is Tripura (two Lok Sabha constituencies analysed) with an average election expenditure of Rs18.79 lakh (75% of the expense limit) followed by Jharkhand (Seven Lok Sabha constituencies analysed) with an average election expenditure of Rs18.73 lakh (75% of expense limit), Uttarakhand (five Lok Sabha constituencies analysed) with an average election expenditure of Rs18.49 lakh (74% of expense limit) and Assam (14 Lok Sabha constituencies analysed) with an average election expenditure of Rs17.77 lakh (71% of expense limit).

 

7. Party-wise Average Election Expenses: The party wise average election expenses shows that the average spending for 161 MPs of Indian National Congress (INC) is Rs14.38 lakh (59% of the average expense limit), for 91 MPs of BJP is Rs14.43 lakh (59% of the average expense limit), for 21 MPs of SP is Rs19.48 lakh (78% of the average expense limit) and for 19 MPs of BSP is Rs14.72 lakh (59% of the average expense limit).

 


8. Top 3 MPs with highest Election Expenses: The maximum expense of about Rs57.39 lakh (230% of the expense limit) has been declared by Premdas of SP from Etawah constituency, Uttar Pradesh followed by Akhilesh Yadav of SP from Kannauj constituency, with an expense of Rs26.73 lakh (or 107% of the expense limit) and Yashbanta Narayan Singh Laguri of BJD from Keonjhar constituency, Orissa with an expense of Rs24.97 lakh (or 100% of the expense limit)

 

9. MPs with lowest Election Expenses: The minimum expense of about Rs1.31 lakhs (or 5% of the expense limit) has been declared by CM Chang of NPF from Nagaland constituency. He is followed by Ravneet Singh of INC from Anandpur Sahib constituency, Punjab with election expenses of about Rs1.75 lakh (or 7% of the expense limit) and Muhammed Hamdulla Sayeed AB of INC from Lakshwadeep constituency with expenses of Rs2.02 lakh (or 20% of the expense limit).

 

10. Expense on Public Meetings and Processions: Out of the 437 MPs analysed, 33 (8%) MPs have declared that they have not spent ANY amount on public meetings, processions etc.

 

11. Expense on Campaigning through electronic/print media: 123 (28%) MPs have declared that they have not spent ANY amount on campaigning through electronic/print media.

 

12. Expense on Campaign Workers: 418 (96%) MPs have declared that they have not spent ANY amount on campaign workers.

 

13. Expense on Vehicles used: 22 (5%) MPs have declared that they have not spent ANY amount on vehicles Used.

 

14. Expense on Campaign Materials and Erection of gates, arches, banners etc.: 21 (5%) MPs have declared that they have not spent ANY amount on Campaign Materials and erection of gates, arches, banners etc.

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    COMMENTS

    MG Warrier

    7 years ago

    Ceilings on election expenditure may not make sense, so long as the monitoring mechanism is weak. Still, like the Railway Timetable in olden days helped to know how much late trains were running, the aam aadmi gets a feel of the relationship between money and ‘winnability’.
    Last Parliament Election was during VISHU festival season in Kerala. We received a glossy VISHU GREETINGS from a candidate, with a humble request for votes. Small print on the ‘document’ read: “Printed and circulated by XYZ. 25,000 copies” XYZ was not the candidate. Someone explained, the small print helps in getting the expenditure on printing cost excluded from election expenditure!

    M G Warrier

    Param

    7 years ago

    But 129 or 30% out of 437 MPs spent Rs14.62 lakh or 59% of the expense limit

    129 members of Parliament (MPs) spent less than 50% of expense limit

    please make up your mind - which % is correct?

    NSriramamurty

    7 years ago

    Election Expendiditure is most confusing.Usually candidates spend in Crores ,some mostly Rs.10 Crores for MP.If Party's Expenditure Election Anounced Date is taken into Account and Cross verified with Candidates Declarations,Then Realistic Picture can Come Out.

    Gopalakrishnan T V

    7 years ago

    The parties and leaders have enough of black money and what is prescribed as ceiling would be adequate enough to satisfy the election Commission. The very fact that the date for withdrawal of Rs 500 and Rs 1000 notes printed prior to 2005 has been extended up to January 2015 is only to facilitate the black money holders and politicians to take care of the election related expenditures comfortably.

    REPLY

    sathyacumaran

    In Reply to Gopalakrishnan T V 7 years ago

    sathyacumaran
    As rightly said by Gopalakrishnan TV even for an small corporation ward member election the expenditure ranges from one crore to five crore this for an ward taken for an MlA and that for Mp election its all an eye wash of rs 70 lakhs as rightly said by former Election commission the money power and muscle power are major bottleneck in geuniness of indian election which cannot be curbed as long as the giver is there would be reciver inorder to be loyal to their receiver the vote would casted as such this 70 lakhs and all the restrictions is just like how the indian law is framed and how is it broken is similar case we expect each Mp would be spending not less than Rs 100 crores to Rs 500 crores that amount of black money they have earned this applicable to all party as the country is having many lobbies in all the lobbies all the mp are bribed whether they might be BJP or congress or samjwadi any party they are heftily bribed that is reason when the Govt signed our Nuclear treaty with US when all party was shouting and once they shut by paying money even the vote of cash account where one of the channel brought the live shows but that channel director and members where threatened hence that was fizzled out that is pathetic state of our country after the advent of Shri MamMohan Singh and Sonia as Prime Minister the corruption have found the root in all walks of the life so its very diffcult as such these restriction in the good intention the EC had framed neither nor even the GOD from Heaven cannot save india from giving and black money would syphoned out and it would be poured as water so its is name sake

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