BJD’s 2019 Election Expenditure 18 Times More Than 2014 Polls

Bhubaneswar: The BJD secured a landslide victory to form the government in Odisha for a record fifth term in a row bagging 112 of the 146 assembly seats. Among all the assets that helped the ruling party retain its power, a new election data suggests that huge poll expenditure could have been one of the significant factors.

According to the statement of election expenditure submitted by the BJD at the Election Commission of India(ECI), the party had spent over a whopping Rs 227 crore for the four-phase polls of 2019 which is 18 times more than the party’s expenditure during 2014 general elections.

It may be noted while the BJD had intimated the Election Commission that it had spent around Rs 12.62 crore during the 2014 elections, the report states that the ruling party has spent Rs 227,79,72,614 during the general elections this year, a lion share of which was dedicated towards advertisement.

Data suggests that the party had spent Rs 71.26 crore in advertisement and for other purposes like Rs 5.26 crore for social media campaign, Rs 20.06 crore for hologram of CM Naveen Patnaik, Rs 11.52 crore for star campaigners, Rs 14.58 crore for hoardings, posters, flags, Rs 16.86 crore for election meetings and rallies, Rs 7.02 crore for election surveys and Rs 16.21 lakh for pre-poll survey purposes.

While the total expenditure on party’s promotion was around Rs 193.34 crore, the funds used for candidates was Rs 34.05 crore, said the report.

While the Opposition parties have slammed the government over the poll expenditure, political experts are of the view that extensive use of money in the election might have played a crucial role in helping the party come back to power.

Deputy Leader of Opposition Bishnu Sethi said, “Data on election expenditure furnished by the BJD seems like eye washing because in reality, the ruling party might have spent a lot more than what they have stated.”

Senior Congress leader Santosh Singh Saluja said, “In my opinion, the BJD had spent around Rs 2000 crore in the election. The party has used the large amount of black money stashed by it during the last 19 years of power. So the Election Commission should take serious note of the allegation and conduct a probe in this connection.”

However, BJD Treasurer Subash Singh said the allegations are baseless as the BJD always believes in transparency. “There is nothing to be doubtful about as we have submitted all the detailed documents to substantiate our expenditure list,” said Singh.

Comparing the election expense data of both the 2014 and 2019 elections, political expert Prasanna Mohanty termed it as a high jump maneuver. “As far as the clean image of Naveen Patnaik is concerned, it probably took a back seat as the data suggests that the entire election was fought on the basis of money,” he said.