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What makes Indian elections the most expensive election in the world?

Spending for the 2024 election is anticipated to hit 1.35 trillion rupees ($16 billion), doubling the 2019 election expenditure and surpassing the 2020 U.S. presidential election costs.

The ongoing Indian General Elections 2024 are set to break all records and become the most expensive elections not just in the history of India, but the world. With projected spending of over ₹1.35 lakh crore ($16 billion), these elections are expected to cost more than double the amount spent in the 2019 General Election. These numbers even surpass the expenditure during the 2020 US Presidential elections.

Unraveling the Dynamics Behind the Most Expensive Election: Factors and Implications

But what makes these elections so hefty? Is it just because of the sheer size of voters? Well, this answer remains incomplete. Several factors contribute to this unprecedented rise in spending.

This geometrical rise in election spending underscores the fierce competition and high risks involved in the electoral process. The rise in cost of various elements, that support political parties like campaigning, rallies, advertisements, and logistics, aid to the argument of over expenditure. 

most expensive election
Source: NDTV

Political parties are relentlessly pouring money into social media campaigns and digital advertisement to reach a wider audience and appeal to voters more effectively. A rapid influx of technology in political campaigning has escalated the costs of elections to several folds.

The whole campaigning process only works well if cash is liquid. This might explain why so many election candidates are millionaires. The average value of assets of all candidates in the first three phases of polls is between ₹4-5 crore, says a Delhi-based political reforms think tank Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR).

The ADR report shows that in the first four phases of polls, 1,708 candidates who have filled nominations are “crorepatis”. ADR estimates that in the first 3 phases of polls, over 29% of election candidates are “crorepatis”.

Furthermore, the sources of funding for such expenditures remain skeptical. Transparency in the political funding process remains a key concern about undisclosed donations and the role of corporate money in moulding elections.

As India celebrates this festival of democracy, the record-breaking spending highlights both the evolving nature of electoral politics and the shortcomings it presents. Ensuring more transparency in political financing and expenditure are crucial steps in safeguarding the integrity and fairness of our democratic process.

As India begins this monumental democratic duty, the world will be closely following its efforts to navigate the complexities of present day’s politics.

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