Siddharth Varadarajan

Journalist | Writer | Analyst

Money power in elections

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Now that we are in the midst of elections in India, it is useful to recall the paper published by Trilochan Sastry, founder chairman of the Association for Democratic Reforms and an academic at IIM Bangalore, in the Economic and Political Weekly a few months back.

Based on an analysis of 62, 847 self-declared affidavits of candidates to all Lok Sabha and Assembly elections held between 2004 and September 2013, Sastry and his colleagues found:

The average assets [of candidates] stack up in the following manner:

All candidates: Rs 1.37 crore per candidate

Third place candidates: Rs 2.03 crore

Runners up: Rs 2.47 crore

Winners: Rs 3.8 crore

Winners with some criminal record: Rs 4.27 crore

Winners with serious criminal records: Rs 4.4 crore

They conclude:

“Wealth increases the chances of winning, and a combination of wealth and criminal record increases it further as 23 per cent of tainted candidates win compared to only 12 per cent of clean candidates.”

For Independent winners, the trend is even more stark. The average assets of independent candidates is as follows:

All independent candidates: Rs 54.6 lakh

Independent winners: Rs 7.2 crore

Independent winners with a criminal record: Rs 11.26 crore

Independent winners with a serious criminal record: Rs 15.1 crore

The table below on the growth of assets of the 3,542 candidates who contested more than one election is also very illuminating. “For winners, the average assets went up from Rs 1.8 crore [in 2004] to Rs 5.81 crore [in 2013], an increase of 222 per cent. Winners are able to increase their wealth much faster than other candidates.”

Growth in assets of candidates

The table is self explanatory. What is especially interesting is the growth of assets of candidates of regional parties like the RLD, AIADMC, TMC (Trinamool), DMK, JDS, Shiv Sena, AGP, SP, RJDTDP, BJD — almost without exception, candidates from these parties seem to be doing much “better” than those from the national parties.

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3 comments on “Money power in elections

  1. soumennath
    April 27, 2014

    Trinamool congress is not listed. Mamata is doing a superb job any way, despite all the negative media publications.

  2. Jawed
    April 25, 2014

    Umda. CPIM bhi phansi hui hai isme. Lekin CPI bechari negative growth mein ha, serious criminals ke column mein.

  3. Present Election law does not impose any limit on the election expenditure incurred by political parties. A small clarification is made in the present general elections.If a candidate accompanies a star campaigner of his/her party to his constituency in a helicopter or private plane,a part of the expenditure shall be added to his/her election expenditure.
    Narendra Modi came in helicopter to Varanasi to file his nomination.Let’s see how much money was spent on this and whether the amount is added to his personal election expenditure.

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This entry was posted on April 25, 2014 by in Indian Politics, Political Economy.

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