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In all, political parties spent Rs 136.88 crore as campaigning-related expenses for the 2008 assembly elections in Madhya Pradesh, Delhi, Chhattisgarh, Mizoram, Rajasthan and Jammu and Kashmir, according to a statement issued by election watchdog ADR-India. The Congress declared the maximum of Rs 87.68 crore as funds collected during the election period, followed by the BSP (Rs 76.20 crore) and BJP (Rs 16.87 crore). The CPI declared the least amount of funds collected: Rs 55 lakh.

While the Sonia Gandhi-led party also declared the maximum amount – Rs 102.56 crore – as expenditure incurred during the six assembly elections, the BJP declared that it did not incur any expenditure under the five heads in the statement to be submitted to the election commission of India (ECI): publicity, travel expenses, other expenses, travel expenses of leaders and workers and miscellaneous expenses expenditure towards candidates.

The Sharad Pawar-led Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) is the only national party to not submit its expenditure statement to the ECI, while Omar Abdullah’s National Conference is the only regional party to submit its expenditure statement, according to the ADR’s media release. According to the report, 93.43 percent of the total funds received by the Congress during the election period was in cash (Rs 81.92 crore), while the figure was 85.60 percent for the saffron party (cash worth Rs 14.44 crore). The BSP, contrast, collected all its funds – Rs 76.20 crore – in cash.

Unlike funds collected, the parties’ preferred mode of expenditure was through cheques or demand drafts, according to their statements submitted to the EC: while 58.29 percent of the Congress party’s total expenditure was by cheque/DD (Rs 59.78 crore), for the BJP it was much higher – 98.74 percent of its total expenditure, or Rs 25.17 crore.

Political parties are required to submit a statement of election expenditure to the EC within 75 days of completion of assembly elections. The expenditure statement contains details of total amounts received as funds in the form of cash, cheques and demand drafts. The CPM and CPI are the only two national parties to submit a break-up of expenses under various heads at the state, district and constituency levels, while Congress and BSP submitted a consolidated expenditure statement.

The regional parties considered for the report are J&K National Conference (JKNC), J&K People’s Party (JKNPP), Lalu Prasad’s Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD), Left Front constituent All India Forward Bloc (AIFB), former PM HD Deve Gowda’s Karnataka-based JD(S), Nitish Kumar’s JD(U), Ajit Singh’s Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD), Maharashtra opposition party Shiv Sena, Mulayam Singh Yadav’s Samajwadi Party (SP), CPI(ML)(L), Shibu Soren’s Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM), pro-Left RSP, Zoram Nationalist Party (ZNP) of Mizoram, Mizoram People's Conference (MPC), and the Chautala-led Indian National Lok Dal (INLD).

JKNC, the only regional party among these to have submitted its election expenditure statement to the election commission, reported zero fund collection and reported total expenditure of Rs 1.36 crore.

The report analyses funds received by political parties during the election period of 79 days – October 14, 2008 to December 31 the same year. Besides Congress and the BJP, the other national parties considered for the report are the BSP, NCP, CPI and CPI(M). The total amount collected by these national parties during the assembly elections was Rs 182.12 crore, while the total expenditure incurred by them stood at Rs 135.52 crore, the report says.

As part of its recommendations, the ADR stated:

* A format similar to the donations report along with date of donations, submitted to the ECI on an annual basis, has to be prescribed for the expenditure statement to bring in more transparency in finances of political parties, especially during elections, when black money reportedly plays a major role.

* All political parties must submit their statements of expenditure in the format given by ECI, including details of expenditure at the state, district and constituency levels.

* Similar to the shadow observers of ECI for monitoring expenditure of candidates, there must also be observers for monitoring the expenditure of political parties.

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