There has been a lot of talk about money this election: whether it is in terms of corruption or in terms of economic development. There has, however, been very little talk about contributions to party campaigns and spending by candidates. Everyone seems to accept that parties are wildly under-reporting their expenditures and contributions. In today’s post, I answer 3 important questions: How much is being donated to Indian political parties? Who is donating to these parties? How much are political parties spending?
I find a disturbing trend of ghost donors and mysterious trusts whose sole job seems to be funding election campaigns. This prevents us from ascertaining the motivations and interests of each party. There are reports to suggest that it is the same private companies that are funding both parties. This collusion between private money and political power should be a cause for concern for citizens as it is sure to colour policy decisions.
Expenditure reports are also severely under-estimated. The BJP reports spending 26.1 lakhs in the election year of 2009, whereas the INC reports an expenditure of 52.5 lakhs in this year. For anyone who has witnessed election campaigns, this amount is laughable. The Election Commission mandates a spending limit of INR 70 lakhs ($116263) per candidate.
Earlier posts in this blog have looked at the nexus of dynasty and criminality in Indian politics. Perhaps it is the vast presence of black money which promotes political families and criminal politicians. Once again, this speaks to a lack of mobility in India, though this time around it is prompted by financial concerns.
Graphs 1 and 2 look at overall donations to the BJP and INC from 2003-2012. Graphs 3 and 4 look at average expenditure reported by the parties in the same time period. Graphs 5 and 6 look at major donors to these parties in 2011-12, i.e, donors above INR 50,00,000 ($83045.00). All data is from the wonderful people at the Association for Democratic Reforms. As always, click on the graphs to get an enlarged view.