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Everyone knows that elections are a costly business. A recent report suggests that a sum of Rs.356 crore was collected and Rs.170 crore was spent by political parties that contested the Karnataka elections of May 2018. The report was revealed by a non-profit organisation Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR), which works in the area of electoral and political reforms.

The report also reveals that Bharathiya Janata Party (BJP) is the top spender splurging nearly Rs.139 crore and they were also able to collect an amount of Rs 213 crore. Of the parties which contested, Janata Dal (Secular) who is currently in power along with congress have not yet revealed their election expenditure.

The report also suggests that BJP has collected a 60 percent of the total amount collected by all the 13 parties that contested the 2018 election. The total amount collected stands at 356 crores.

Next to BJP was congress amounting to 104.83 crores. This was followed by the Communist Party of India (Marxist). The report clearly shows that there is an absence of a level playing field when it come to election expenditures.

CPM was able to collect 17.06 crores for Karnataka elections. The report also revealed that highest expenditure was on publicity followed by travel. And Ironically, AIADMK which complained about lack of funds ended up spending almost 6 crores for elections.

The elections was held on May last year. According to the election commission rules political parties are expected to submit the expenditure details within 75 days after the election completes.

In a meeting held by the election commission last year, all parties barring BJP wanted the election expenditure to be capped.

The election commission (EC) had suggested the government to amend the existing rule to introduce a cap for election expenditure.

“It should be either 50% or not more than the expenditure ceiling limit provided for the candidate multiplied by the number of candidates of the party contesting the election,” the EC has told the Law Ministry.

According to EC, putting a ceiling to election expenditures would ensure a level playing field for all the political parties. It would also help in curbing the menace of unaccounted money in elections.

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