Lok Sabha Polls 2024: How Much Does It Cost To Hold Elections In World’s Largest Democracy

Cost of holding elections has increased significantly since the first Lok Sabha elections in 1951-52
Lok Sabha
Lok Sabha

India is set to hold the world’s largest general election on April 19. Over 96 crore registered voters across the country will decide the fate of the candidates in fray. Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led National Democratic Alliance is taking on the Indian National Developmental Inclusive Alliance consisting of 26 opposition parties.  

In total, 543 constituencies will hold polls to elect their members of parliament. Elections will be held between April 19 and June 1 and the results will be declared on June 1. The Election Commission of India (ECI) is responsible for holding the elections whose entire budget comes under the purview of central government.  

While the expenses of political parties and candidates are often in the news, the exercise of conducting elections also requires significant funding. From procuring EVMs to handling the logistics of the election, there are several expenses which the ECI has to handle during Lok Sabha elections.  

Cost Of Indian Elections 

In a reply to the question in Rajya Sabha in 2019, the government informed that the entire cost of general elections is borne by the central government. If the state and Lok Sabha elections are held together, the cost is evenly split between the Centre and state government.  

As per the details provided in the answer, the government spent Rs 3,870 crore to conduct the 2014 Lok Sabha election. The expenses include the administrative expenses of ECI, the cost of EVM procurement and voter awareness programmes. The cost of the 2019 election has not been officially released. However, some reports have put the expenditure on procurement of EVMs for the 2019 elections at Rs 4,000 crore. The government spent Rs 10.45 crore to hold the first ever election in 1952.  

But apart from the direct expenses on poll related equipment and workforce, there are lot of costs involved in holding the elections which include logistics of security, the expenditure of candidates etc. The Ram Nath Kovind panel, which was set up to evaluate the possibility of ‘One Nation, One Election’, provided an estimate of holding national and state elections. 

It said in its report, “Publicly reported estimates of conducting national and state elections, beyond the official costs of conducting elections, range from Rs 3-7 lakh crore.” 

Another analysis by CMSIndia found that Indian elections have become one of the costliest in the last three decades. The research considered the expenditure of ECI, political parties and candidates.  

The paper said that in 1998, the total expenditure stood at Rs 9,000 crore. ECI’s share of the total spending stood at 13 per cent. This amount increased to over Rs 55,000 crore in the 2019 election. ECI made up for only 15 per cent of this amount.  

With the number of voters rising and the cost of fighting elections increasing, the total amount spent on the elections is expected to increase even further.  

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