The 2019 elections that had turned out as a do or die battle for the Naven Patnaik- led-BJD in the face of the surging Modi Tsunami, it all appears that the election had taxed the ruling BJD quite grippingly. The party has grown poorer by a whopping Rs 103 crore.
Post breaking the bank, the party would be whispering the popular saying "There are two things that are important in politics. The first is money and I can't remember what the second one is."
This well-known thought is delivered by none other than the former US Senator and well known Businessman Marcus Hanna, who had been the successful campaign manager of former US President William McKinley.
As per the report released by Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) recently, the ruling BJD has recorded the highest erosion in its assets among the 44 regional parties in the country which have submitted their balance sheets to the Election Commission of India.
Odisha's ruling party for the last 20 years has recorded an asset erosion of 45 percent in 2019-20 - the year that saw both Lok Sabha and Assembly elections in the State.
An analysis of the ADR reports revealed that Odisha's ruling BJD which had an asset base worth Rs 232.27 cr at the end of March 2019, was left with only Rs 128.752 cr worth assets at the end of March 2020. The State had seen do or die elections in April 2019, when the ruling BJD was up against the headwinds of the Modi wave.
In fact, a detailed glance at the reports reveals that the ruling BJD had a finance vest of over Rs 305 crore to fight the 2019 polls. The party could raise funds worth only Rs 74.7 crore for the polls as against Rs 221 cr by YSRCP (then opposition and now the ruling party in Andhra Pradesh) and Rs 131.33 cr by the then ruling party (TDP) of Andhra Pradesh.
In fundraising for the polls, BJD finished fifth among the 44 regional parties who had collected maximum funds for the polls.
However, when it comes to poll expenditure, the ruling BJD did so at the drop of a dime. Odisha's BJD splurged a massive Rs 193.73 cr in 2019 polls - both Lok Sabha and State Assembly - to emerge not only as the top spender among 44 regional parties but had also been the third-largest spender (after two national parties -BJP and Congress) in the country.
Elections - both LS and state assembly - were held in the neighbouring state of Andhra Pradesh around the same time in 2019. Though both - TDP and YSRCP - collected the highest among the regional parties in the country, YSRCP spent only around 39 percent of its funds raised and the then ruling TDP spent around 59 percent.
BJD's Top Billing
The party had spent a billion rupees in publicity in 2019. Moreover, the regional party's expenses under the section 'Others/Miscellaneous' was more than double that of the national party like Congress.
When BJD's expenditure under the section had been Rs 45 cr, the national party like Congress spent only Rs 22.18 cr.
Another big theme of the poll extravaganza had been the expenditure of around Rs 34 cr on candidates by BJD.
Here lies the big catch.
An analysis reveals that BJD's expenditure on candidates, when Odisha has 21 LS seats and 147 assembly constituencies, had been 16 percent of the expenditure towards candidates by national party BJP and 17 percent of the expenditure by the national party Congress.
Significantly, BJP and Congress spent Rs 215 cr and Rs 193.97 cr, respectively, in 2019 when both the parties had contested in around 400 constituencies.
This shows the proportionate spending on candidates by BJD had been very high.
What Are Candidate's Expenses?
"The expenses on candidates and miscellaneous spending are known as their poll budget, from which lump-sum payments are usually gifted to influential citizens (like sarpanches, regional or caste association leaders). And a portion of the 'gift' trickle down to the voters as cash handouts," explained a former senior official in Odisha State Election Commission (SEC).
In neighbouring Andhra Pradesh, the ruling TDP spent Rs 77 cr as against Rs 85 cr by YSRCP, and owing to the headwind of incumbency, the party lost the poll battle to its rival.
However, the splurge by BJD sounds like the popular idiom 'Almighty Dollar' - because the party emerged at the top ducking the ravaging Modi tsunami. But the cash-in proved costly for the party.
The Balance Sheet
Significantly, the balance sheet of ruling BJD, as revealed by the ADR report, reflects a big hole in the pocket. The party has seen an erosion of its assets. The assets are down by Rs 103 cr.
BJD's assets in the form of FDs (fixed deposits) in banks down to Rs 118 cr in 2019-20 from Rs 140 cr in 2018-19.
The regional entity's 'Other Assets' squeezed by a massive of around 92 percent to a mere Rs 6 crore in 2019-20.
Interestingly, along with the 5th consecutive win, the regional party has made an accretion in the value of its fixed assets (like land) by 2437 percent to Rs 1.47 crore.