2014 polls set to be most expensive in India’s history

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New Delhi: With two major political parties, the BJP and the Congress pledging mega bucks for electioneering during this year’s Lok Sabha polls, expenditure is set to be highest ever in Independent India leading to money power taking over muscle power in states like Uttar Pradesh and Bihar.

Since the Election Commission has jacked up expenditure limit for candidates in their respective parliamentary constituencies from Rs 40,00,000 to Rs 70,00,000 from these elections, it estimated that legal flow money in electioneering may go beyond Rs 10,000 crores.
However, many in the political circles believe that given the competitive environment it would be “just next to impossible” to imagine the amount of money, which is expected to flow this time.

It also learnt that both the Congress and the BJP have earmarked huge budget for image makeover of their respective top leaders Rahul Gandhi and Narendra Modi. Reports were there that the Congress has hired a PR company to work exclusively for Mr Gandhi, whereas sources in the BJP claim that Mr Modi’s individual campaign only is going to cost more than Rs 2,000 crores.

According to a Delhi-based think tank, the Centre for Media Studies, for the first time ever money power is going to be dominating factor rather than muscle power in the electoral outcomes in the two politically-crucial states of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar.

The Centre for Media Studies chairman, Dr N. Bhaskara Rao, said that these elections would see use of money power at an unprecedented scale.

“According to our estimates about Rs 30,000 crores would be spent during electioneering in the forthcoming Lok Sabha polls,” Dr Rao said.

“In these elections for the first time we are expecting that muscle power, till now the dominating force in UP and Bihar, will be overshadowed by money power,” Dr Rao added. He explained that a final estimate of the expenditure could only be made once all parties declare their candidates.

“Plus such expenditure also depends on the candidates chosen by the political parties. If candidates, who are businessmen or real estate speculators, are chosen they would definitely be spending more than social workers, farmers or professionals,” Dr Rao argued.

He also pointed out that there were only a few states where expenditure was likely to be low as it also depended on the number of parties (hence number of candidates) in the fray. “We believe that states like Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh, where the Congress and the BJP have a direct fight would be seeing less expenditure as compared to Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar or Andhra Pradesh,” he added.

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