Lok Sabha elections 2019: Why it is among the world’s most expensive electoral exercises

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The world India This time the polling exercise, due to start on April 11 and be completed by May 19, will cost an unprecedented 500 billion rupees ($7 billion), according to the New Delhi-based Centre for Media Studies. About $6.5 billion was spent during the U.S. presidential and congressional races in 2016, according to OpenSecrets.org, which tracks money in American politics. The CMS projection marks a 40 percent jump from the $5 billion estimated to have been spent during India And it amounts to roughly $8 spent per voter in a country where about 60 percent of the population lives on around $3 a day. Bhaskara Rao, chairman of the Centre for Media Studies, who has advised previous governments and ran a market research group. Social media spending is likely to be dramatically higher, surging to about 50 billion rupees from 2.5 billion rupees in 2014, Rao said. His group Specific data can be hard to pin down, but costs are rising in general as constituency sizes increase and more candidates join the fray, said Simon Chauchard, a Columbia University lecturer who has followed elections in India. Indian politicians feel And a secret ballot ensures that a bribe can Gifts can help indicate to India More than 90 percent of federal-level Indian politicians said their peers feel pressured to hand out gifts like cash, alcohol or other personal goods, according to a survey by Jennifer Bussell, an assistant professor at the University of California, Berkeley. Blenders, television sets and occasionally even goats are handed out as gifts in some areas. The Election Commission seized more than 1.3 billion rupees of unaccounted cash, gold, alcohol and drugs last year during a tight election in the state of Karnataka. Most of the spending isn While candidates have a legal expenditure cap, parties can spend unrestricted amounts. The biggest national parties declared a combined income of just 13 billion rupees for the year through March 2018. Rallying the Troops With Chicken Curry Indian politicians love a good rally: They crisscross the country, corralling locals into large tents where they To attract a crowd, some politicians may need to offer a box of food filled with biryani or chicken curry that can be too expensive for average citizens. That Dummy Candidates India In populous states like Uttar Pradesh, where a name can identify the caste or clan of a particular candidate, this trick can be especially helpful. Popular figures are also targeted: In 2014, actress Hema Malini was up against two other Hema Malinis, the Hindustan Times reported. But even fielding dummy candidates cost money. The expense can go as high as 120 million rupees, according to an investigation by India Today magazine in 2016. Parties also register multiple candidates to get around legal caps on how much an individual can spend, with the most popular member getting most of the resources. Brand Building: Make India Great Again Swag As much as 26 billion rupees will be spent on advertising in the upcoming elections, according to Zenith India, a firm that arranges for slots on TV and in newspapers. That In February alone, more than 40 million rupees was spent on political advertising on just one site Then there are T-shirts with the slogan Hermits and Elephants Campaign spending by political parties accounts for almost all India But the Election Commission has also faced large costs organizing an election with polling stations running from 15,000 feet above sea level in the Himalayas and one for a sole hermit deep in the jungles of Western India. India62 billion rupees to the Election Commission this fiscal year, a new high. Some of that may be used for elephants to carry electronic voting machines to relatively inaccessible regions, and boats to ferry men and materials across the mighty Brahmaputra river in the northeast.

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