It costs only about a lakh to elect a new president. But the frantic confabulations that leaders of almost all parties have held during the past fortnight to select their nominee for the presidential poll have cost about 20 times as much.
The countdown to the poll saw, among other political activity, two serving and two former chief ministers dash down to Delhi, leaders going into a huddle across the country, and about 100 Congress leaders from different states converging on the Capital.
The cost incurred on the air travel of political leaders during the past two weeks alone would run into several lakhs. A visit to Delhi by a chief minister of a neighbouring state like Uttar Pradesh or Rajasthan is said to cost Rs 2.5 to Rs 3 lakh. Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati used a state aircraft to travel to Delhi, Rajasthan CM Vasundhara Raje took a commercial flight.
Then there are the hidden, but huge, expenses built into the visits of politicians like Mayawati and Mulayam Singh Yadav, who require high levels of security. At least four security vehicles and eight commandos always accompany these leaders. The travel and dearness allowances of the security personnel adds up to a tidy sum.
But things aren’t quite over yet. More seems to be coming. Canvassing for the July 19 presidential poll is expected to pick up after July 4, the last date for withdrawal of candidatures.
(Inputs from KS Tomar in Jaipur)