LS Polls: Most expensive ever

As political outfits ready to outwit opponents in the struggle for power this summer, it will be the tax-payer that foots the whopper of a tab left behind by the democratic carnival. At a staggering Rs 10,000 crore, the Lok Sabha polls are going to be, perhaps, the most expensive election ever.

According to the US Federal Election Commission, US President Barack Obama and his competitors incurred some USD 1.8 billion (nearly Rs 8,000 crore) in bills for the 2007-08 presidential campaign.

A survey, conducted by Centre for Media Studies (CMS), says the estimated amount to be spent on the Lok Sabha elections that determine the next government in the country, at about Rs 10,000 crore (USD two billion).

The whopper price-tag however does not include other ‘taxes’ such as assembly elections in Andhra Pradesh and Orissa.

While the cost of US elections was spread across the election year, India will see the expenditures incurred in a matter of months.

The estimated Rs 10,000 crore expenditure is inclusive of the nearly Rs 2,500 crore in unofficial money that would be ploughed in, says the CMS survey.

The latest presidential elections in the US has been billed as the most expensive ever, with cost doubling from the previous elections held in 2004.

Similarly, the cost of general elections in India, according to CMS, is also set to more than double this year from about Rs 4,500 crore in last Lok Sabha polls and would be the highest in the history of the country.

CMS adds that the government expenses would be in the region of 20 per cent of the total cost which would include nearly Rs 1,300 crore by Election Commission and about Rs 700 crore to be spent by various central and state government agencies for purposes like photo identity cards, EVMs and polling booths.

Various political parties are expected to spend about Rs 1,650 crore from their party funds, which would include about Rs 1,000 crore from the two main parties — Congress and BJP alone.

Propping up expenses the candidates of national parties are expected to chip in Rs 4,350 crore, while those from the regional parties would bring in another Rs 1,000 crore.

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