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Slump fails to plug poll cash flow

delhi Updated: Apr 24, 2009 01:52 IST
Chetan Chauhan
Chetan Chauhan
Hindustan Times
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“There is no recession in cricket,” said Indian Premier League boss Lalit Modi publicly at a time when the world is reeling under a global economic slump. A league of politicians are making a similar statement, but not quite as overtly as Modi.

A whopping Rs 45 crore in cash was seized in raids across five states till Wednesday - the eve of Phase-II of elections. Political pundits said this isn’t even the “tip of the ice-berg.”

Professor Arun Kumar of Centre for Economic Statistics and Planning in Jawaharlal Nehru University, said, “The amount of money seized is even less than 0.1 per cent of the black money being used in elections.” In 1998, 20 sitting MPs had admitted to him that they had given money for votes.

An estimate of black money pumped in this elections puts the figure between Rs 10,000 crore and Rs 14,000 crore. And this is between the major national and state parties only.

A CMS study in February 2009 of 18,000 people across 19 states had found that 21 per cent of the electorate took cash for votes. CMS director Bhaskara Rao said, “It means that expenditure per constituency is not less than Rs 2 crore for a candidate of a major political party.” The poll panel has capped the spending per constituency at Rs 25 lakh.

In Karnataka’s mine rich Bellary the police seized Rs 8 crore from bank vans this week.

In Andhra Pradesh, where the Congress is facing a double challenge from the Telugu Desam Party and Praja Rajyam Party, Rs 22 crore cash and liquor worth Rs 5 crore was seized till April 20.

Even former poll panel chief N Gopalaswami was candid enough to admit that they had failed to check the use of black money power in elections. “It is a manifestation of a disease, not the actual disease,” he said, terming black money a bigger problem of economy.