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Indian voters understand the financial burden of elections

Common Indians these days are enthusiastically engaged in the democratic process, actively exercising their right to vote in every election and shaping the future of their nation with resounding collective voices. But now a common man considers the financial burden of elections a major obstacle to his economic development.

For this reason, the split verdict is almost wiped out of Indian democracy. In addition, the common Indian’s perception is increasingly influenced and analyzed by various economic ideologies, and amidst this challenge, he wants to select a government for his country or state that can make him capable of fulfilling economic dreams.

He no longer wants to maintain the false pride of economic prosperity.

The reason is that the economic struggle of nearly three generations of this 75-year-old independent country is still in its infancy. India is the world’s largest democratic country and a source of perpetual pride, but it is also crucial to understand that during elections, the cost per voter is comparatively double that of the daily economic standard of living.

According to a report, during the general elections of 2019, the cost per voter was about 8 USD, while in 2022–23, four years after that election, the per capita income in India was approximately 3 USD, or about Rs 250 per day.

These figures highlight that Indian elections are becoming very expensive, and due to the scarcity of financial resources, the economic cost of these elections poses a hindrance to the development of the common Indian.

Now the time has come when it should also be noted that if the life of a common Indian has not become financially prosperous in the last 75 years, then some problems are usually mentioned in this context: a burgeoning population, continuous unemployment, surging inflation, over-reliance on the agricultural sector, and a lack of quality education. But now, why not also integrate the various electoral expenses of the country into all of these?

In the country’s first general election, the cost per voter was 60 paise, and then Rs 17 in 2004. However, this cost remained Rs 2 per voter until 1985. It is crucial to note that during the first general election in 1952, the total number of voters in India was around 17 crore, which has increased to approximately 90 crore in the 2019 general election.

This means that in the 17 general elections since independence, the number of voters has increased more than five times, while the electoral expenses incurred on them have been much higher.

According to various reports, the total expenditure on Indian general elections in 2019 was around Rs 55,000 crores, whereas the cost of the first general election in 1952 was approximately Rs 11 crores.

It is astonishing to note that the general election in India in 2019 was more expensive than the US presidential election. Recently, when the results of elections in five states came, it was once again seen that there was no divided mandate in any state. Now, if this democratic result is analyzed in light of economic considerations, then it once again proves prominently that the public wants to bear the financial burden of elections only after 5 years.

Secondly, it was also seen that the schemes for the development of the common man, even if they were populist, got the support of the public.

The context behind this may have been that the common man wants some facilities in his personal life apart from infrastructure development, like girl education, free or subsidized health care, social security, mobile and technology, employees’ pension schemes, etc.

When the economic accounts of the states were measured before the elections, many states lagged in creating infrastructure because most of their expenditure was towards social schemes, and they also kept getting burdened with financial debt.

On the contrary, if some states were successful in enriching the infrastructure and expanding social schemes, then the democratic mandate in those states would result in a one-party majority.

This is a clear indicator of the fact that in elections, voters are influenced only by economic considerations and not by any other objective or narrative.


Dr PS Vohra The writer is a columnist & financial thinker

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