Fighting and winning Karnataka assembly poll on an average costs just about Rs 700,000, less than half of the Election Commission-imposed upper limit of Rs. 16 lakh (Rs. 1.6 million), says an NGO after analyzing the expense statements of recently elected state law makers.
A study of the expense declarations of 213 of the 224 newly-elected members of the legislative assembly (MLA) showed the average amount of money spent by them "is about Rs. 743,000, which is 46% of the Election Commission expense limit of Rs.16 lakh", the NGO, Karnataka Election Watch (KEW), said.
"Either contesting elections has become very cheap in India or most of these MLAs have lied in their declarations," it said in a release in Bangalore.
The Karnataka assembly has 225 members, 224 elected and one nominated. The election to 223 seats was held May 5 and for one on May 28.
The Congress won 122 seats, the Janata Dal-Secular and Bharatiya Janata Party 40 seats each, the Karnataka Janata Party (KJP) headed by former BJP leader BS Yeddyurappa six and the rest were taken by smaller parties and Independents.
KEW said the average spending for 117 MLAs of the Congress is Rs. 753,000 each (47% of the expense limit), for the BJP's 37 MLAs it is Rs. 720,000 each (45% of the expense limit), for 37 JD-S MLAs Rs. 747,000 (47% of the expense limit), for six MLAs of KJP Rs.720,000 (45% of the expense limit) and for four MLAs of the BSR Congress Rs.609,000 (38% of the expense limit).
BSR Congress was floated by B Sriramulu, former BJP minister and associate of jailed mining baron G Janardhana Reddy.
KEW said only one MLA, Mallikarjun Sidramappa Khuba of JD-S, had declared election expenses of about Rs. 16.03 lakh.
It noted that 15 of the 213 MLAs analyzed had declared election expenses of less than Rs. 400,000, about 25% of expense limit.
Only two other MLAs, SS Krishna, an Independent, and BN Shivannanavar had declared expenses of more than Rs. 10 lakh. Krishna has declared he spent Rs. 13.22 lakh and Shivannanavar Rs. 13.10 lakh.
One MLA, SN Subbareddy, an Independent, has claimed to have spent just about Rs. 113,000 or 7% of the expense limit, while KR Ramesh Kumar of the Congress has shown expenses of about Rs. 254,000 or 16% of the expense limit, and N Rajanna, also of the Congress says he spent Rs. 307,000 or 19% of the expense limit.
KEW said HP Rajesh of Congress has shown election expenses more than his total assets declared in the affidavit submitted while filing nomination papers. He has shown total assets worth Rs.750,000, while his election expenses are Rs. 11.89 lakh.
Other findings are: 28 MLAs have declared they have not spent any amount on public meetings and processions; 73 MLAs say they have not spent any money on campaigning through electronic/print media, and 102 MLAs claim they have not spent any amount on campaign workers.
The KEW said the election expense declarations of the elected MLAs should be properly scrutinized in a time-bound manner by the Election Commission of India and strong action should be taken against defaulters.