India’s Bitterly Fought Election Becomes the World’s Most Expensive
Amit Shah, president of the Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP), left, and Narendra Modi, India’s prime minister, gesture to the crowd during an event at the party’s headquarters in New Delhi, India. (Photographer: T. Narayan/Bloomberg)

India’s Bitterly Fought Election Becomes the World’s Most Expensive

(Bloomberg) -- Elections in the world’s biggest democracy have become the most expensive too.

Spending by political parties and candidates to woo 900 million voters in the just concluded polls cost them nearly 600 billion rupees ($8.7 billion), more than double of 2014 polls, according to the New Delhi-based Centre for Media Studies. The report, based on field studies, analysis and estimation, found that they spent 700 rupees per voter or nearly one billion rupees in each parliamentary constituency.

With some constituencies comprising as many as three million voters, equivalent to the population of Jamaica, candidates had to spend more for publicity and logistics and in some cases distributed cash for votes, according to the report. India’s poll panel prescribes a seven million-rupee ceiling on spending by a candidate.

About $6.5 billion was spent ‘during the U.S. presidential and congressional races in 2016, according to, which tracks money in American politics.

At this rate, expenditure in the next 2024 general election could cross one trillion rupees, said N. Bhaskara Rao, chairman of CMS.

“Mother of all corruption lies in the spiraling election expenditure,’’ said Rao. “If we are not able to address this, we can’t check corruption in India.’’

©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

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