Source: 
Business Line
http://www.thehindubusinessline.com/news/nearly-rs-400-cr-to-be-spent-on-holding-polls-in-5-states/article5276137.ece
Date: 
26.10.2013
City: 
New Delhi

Elections to five States, to be held between November and December, will collectively cost the State Governments between Rs 360-400 crore, an increase of 6-7 per cent over what was spent previously, sources in the Election Commission have indicated.

Delhi, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Mizoram and Chhattisgarh go to the polls in the next few weeks to elect new assemblies as their five-year terms come to an end. Over 11 crore voters are eligible to vote in 630 constituencies in these five States.

Subash Pani, former Deputy Election Commissioner, told Business Line that the maximum expenditure is incurred towards training of personnel to conduct elections, taking care of logistics to ensure that personnel reach all the polling booths and in providing security for the polls. Creating awareness about the elections is another area in which substantial expenditure is incurred.

Largely concurring with these views, Anurag Mittal, National Coordinator, Association for Democratic Reforms, said that if criminals and muscle power are kept out of the electoral process, the State expenditure on elections will come down as police deployments will come down. There is also a feeling that setting up call centres, as is the practice in Australia and US, for the visually impaired and the physically challenged will not only help increase voter turnout, but also cut down costs on printing ballot papers in Braille.

FRACTION OF TOTAL

With 133,537 polling stations in the five states going to polls and the thumb rule being at least five people per booth, the States will have to provide over 6.76 lakh persons.

Besides spending on the logistics of moving so many people, the State Governments will also have to provide them a travelling allowance (TA).

However, even though these figures are mind boggling, the expenditure incurred by the State Governments is only a fraction of what is spent on the elections as a whole. Apart from what the states spend, each candidate contesting an assembly election is allowed to spend a maximum of Rs 16 lakh in larger States such as Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Andhra Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh, towards their polls campaigns.

“There is no limit on the amount that the party can spend and there is also unexplained expenditure,” said a former EC official who declined to be identified.

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