New Delhi: Cash collections accounted for a whopping 63 per cent of total funds or over Rs 2,100 crore garnered by various political parties during all state assembly polls between 2004 and 2015, a study showed on Monday.
The fund collection through cash was however relatively lower at 44 per cent (over Rs 1,000 crore) during three Lok Sabha elections held during this time period.
The data collated by Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR), a Delhi-based think tank working on poll reforms, showed the parties collected Rs 2107.80 crore during 71 state assembly elections in this period.
During the Lok Sabha elections held in 2004, 2009 and 2014, cheque payments accounted for the highest collection at 55 per cent (nearly Rs 1,300 crore), while cash accounted for Rs 1039.06 crore.
In case of state polls, fund collected through cheque payments was Rs 1244.86 crore between 2004 and 2015. The study did not take into account the recent polls in five states.
ADR said the analysis is based on statements submitted by the national and regional parties to the Election Commission of India. These statements contain information of funds collected and spent between announcement and completion of elections.
In terms of expenditure, the the three Lok Sabha polls saw 83 per cent of spending, or Rs 2044.67 crores, through cheque while this percentage was 65 per cent during assembly polls.
"India is the least transparent country when it comes to funding of political parties," Professor Trilochan Sastry of IIM Bangalore, a founder-member of ADR, said at a press conference here to release the survey results.
The survey, which details the fundings collected and expenditure incurred by regional parties, noted that SP, AAP, AIADMK, BJD and SAD together collected Rs 267.14 crore, 62 per cent of the total funds declared by all the regional parties, during Lok Sabha polls.
"SP topped the charts with Rs 118 crore as collection and Rs 90.09 crore as expenditure. Despite contesting only in 2014 Lok Sabha elections, AAP came second in terms of collection by declaring Rs 51.83 crore. AIADMK is placed third with Rs 37.66 crore," ADR said.
SP, the ruling party in UP, trumped others in terms of amount collected and spent during the state polls as well. It collected Rs 186.8 crore and spent Rs 96.54 crore.
AAP, which has contested two assembly elections till date, came second with Rs 38.54 crore as total funds collected and Rs 22.66 crore expenditure.
According to the ECI guidelines, parties should not make any expenditure above Rs 20,000 in cash but there is no provision in the expenditure format for the parties to declare expenses below or above Rs 20,000, ADR said.
"Hence, it appears that the parties are taking advantage of the opacity in the expenditure statements to collect and spend funds in cash," the survey adds.
It also consists a separate list of 'defaulters', listing parties who did not submit their expenditure statements between 2011-15.
Among the national parties, statements of NCP and CPI are not available for two assembly elections held between 2011 and 2015. "The availability of election expenditure statements of regional parties is equally worrisome where the statements of JD(U) is unavailable for 15 assembly elections while that of SP is unavailable for 11 Assembly Elections," it said.
Among the national parties, Congress topped the list with maximum funds collection of Rs 1,468.49 crore during assembly elections, while it spent Rs 1,209.84 crore, the survey by ADR said.
BJP came in second in terms of funds collected and election expenditure incurred. Total funds collected by BJP stood at Rs 1,128.156 crore and its expenditure was Rs 1,025.54 crore.
During Lok Sabha elections, BJP saw the highest collection of Rs 855.22 crore, while in terms of expenditure INC spent the most Rs 1,008.02 crore, it added....