As per the Election Commission of India (ECI), there are 4120 assembly seats in India. Further there are 542 seats in Lok Sabha. Even if we leave aside the council and Rajya Sabha seats, direct elections are contested on 4562 seats. Though the proportion of expenditure in elections varies from place to place and seat to seat but even if we take Rs 3 core as an average the total expenditure on assembly and Lok Sabha elections by the candidates and parties comes around Rs 13686 crore.
Now, even if we assume a national party contests election on 80% of total seats, the expenditure for the party comes around Rs 10948 crore. Hence this is the expenditure on candidates only every five years. Further the expenditure on travel of star campaigners and other regular expenditure on political functions also run into crores of rupees.
Taking this as a clue we can easily assume that national parties spend Rs 10000 - 13000 crores for coming to power every five years. This is a very conservative figure and expenditures on Panchayat elections, ULB elections, Legislative Council elections and Rajya Sabha elections are not included.
Further, many a time parties get involved in ‘horse-trading’ and buy legislators and parliamentarians for vote of confidence. This calculation is to show that the emergence of government itself is through corrupt practices. Former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee once testified to a parliamentary committee that ‘‘every legislator starts his career with the lie of the false election return he files.’’
It is understood that political parties and parliamentarians/ legislators don’t come to power just to serve the society by spending from their own pockets. They have to ensure that they get back their returns by multiplying it and also earn sufficient to stay alive even if they lose elections.
At this juncture the role of corporates and business house comes. They provide election funding to the parties and candidates and in turn influence the policy decisions in their favour. A small policy decision at top level gives profit to these companies to recover their investments (with maximum benfits). At smaller levels, the candidates who have spent their money in election eye for government contracts and the transfer business for recovery of their money. For getting contacts and favourable deals the suitable officer is posted who is ready to spend for plum postings. This creates a vicious circle of corruption.
This systematic corruption cannot be curbed by Lokpal, Vigilance organisations or Accountability commissions. For this we require rethinking on our political system and funding pattern. The recent paper by Sh M. V. Rajeev Gowda and E. Sridharan identifies two major factors in corruption in India.
“…there are two key drivers of corruption in India. One, economic liberalization has not ended the government’s discretionary powers over resource allocation in numerous domains. Two, flawed political party funding and election expenditure laws drive parties and politicians to misuse the government’s discretionary powers over resource allocation to raise funds for election campaigns and political parties.”
In view of the above analysis we require rethinking on present political setup and need to identify the alternatives to root out the corruption. Ornamental measures to curb corruption shall not work.