This was the most expensive Lok Sabha elections entailing a cost of Rs 3426 crore to the national exchequer, a substantial jump of 131 per cent over the expenses incurred in 2009. In the last Lok Sabha polls five years back, the cost to the exchequer was Rs 1483 crore.
The official expenses are part of the whopping Rs 30,000 crore that were projected to be spent by the government, political parties and candidates in the nine-phased polls.
The Election Commission attributed the jump in official expenses inflation besides a series of measures undertaken to increase voting figures for the substantial rise in poll expenditure. Several political parties have jumped into electoral fray and even the number of Independents contesting polls have increased. The more the candidates the more the expenditure. Voter awareness campaigns, distribution of voter slip ahead of election date, use of Voter Verified Paper Audit Trail for the first time in these polls pushed the expenditure further.
According to the Election Commission, the cost of conducting the general elections had already witnessed a 20-fold increase in 2009 as against the first polls held in 1952. In 1952, the cost was 60 paise per elector which became Rs 12 in 2009.
Considering expenditure in absolute terms, Rs 10.45 crore was spent in 1952, while Rs 1483 crore was the amount government spent for 2009 polls.
The 2004 Lok Sabha elections cost the government exchequer about Rs 1,114 crore spent in the exercise. In 2004, per voter cost was Rs 17 per elector.
There was an increase in the election cost by 17.53 per cent vis-a-vis the 1999 general elections despite the fact that there was reduction in number of polling stations by 11.26 per cent.
In first six Lok Sabha polls, cost per elector was less than a rupee, but subsequent elections saw a massive hike in election expenditure. The entire expenditure on actual conduct of elections to Lok Sabha is borne by the Centre. But, expenditure towards law and order maintenance is taken care of by respective state governments.
Besides the government expenditure, political parties and candidates also spent large amounts of money.
Significantly, the government had this time raised the cap of spending by a candidate from Rs 40 lakh to 70 lakh, which was expected to push up the total expenditure on the polls. The projected expenditure to elect the 16th Lok Sabha is set to rival the USD seven billion (approximately Rs. 42,000 crore) spent by candidates and parties in the 2012 US presidential elections.
A study carried out by Centre for Media Studies before the polls said “unaccounted for” money pumped in by “crorepati” candidates, corporates and contractors has pushed up the expenditure to elect 543 MPs.