New Delhi

Political parties collected Rs 5,723.41 crore during Lok Sabha and Assembly elections since 2004 while spending Rs 5,193.86 crore for campaigning. The Congress and the BJP cornered 74% of the donations and were the leading spenders accounting for 80% of the expenditure.

Of the total collection, Rs 3,146.86 crore or 54.98% was through cash, prompting private election watchdog Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) to demand that details of all donors who contribute exclusively for campaigns be made public. At present, only details of those who donate above Rs 20,000 need to be informed to the Election Commission.

The analysis of three Lok Sabha elections and 71 Assembly polls showed that Congress got the highest donations at Rs 2,259.04 crore during the election period of 1,535 days between 2004 and 2015. BJP received Rs 1,983.37 crore. Cash donations to Congress were at 68.33% (Rs 1,543.74 crore) while for BJP it was 44.69% (Rs 886.52 crore).

“India is the least transparent country when it comes to funding of political parties," Prof Trilochan Sastry of IIM Bangalore, a founder-member of ADR, said.

During the three Lok Sabha polls, parties collected Rs 2355.35 crore of which 44% (Rs 1039.06 crore) was by cash.

In 2004, 38 parties collected 253.46 crore and it rose to Rs 638.26 crore the next time when 34 parties contested. In last polls, the donations for 43 parties were a whopping Rs 1,463.63 crore.

The data also showed that elections over years were becoming a costly affair, recording an eight-fold increase in expenditure from 2004 Lok Sabha polls to the one in 2014.

The expenditure -- total Rs 2466.07 crore -- rose three times from Rs 202.04 crore in 2004 to Rs 676.25 crore in the next elections. In 2014, the election spending more than doubled to Rs 1,587.78 crore.

Among regional parties, SP, AAP, AIADMK, BJD and SAD were on the top, collecting Rs 267.14 crore, which forms 62% of the total funds declared by all regional parties for Lok Sabha polls. Despite contesting in only one Lok Sabha election, AAP stood second in the total funds collected by declaring Rs 51.83 crore.

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