More than Rs 6,500 crore or Rs 65.641 billion was spent on elections by 18 political parties, including seven national parties and 11 regional parties, between 2015 and 2020, an analysis of the annual audit reports of the political parties submitted to the Election Commission of India.
Of this, the political parties spent more than Rs 34 billion or 52.3% on publicity alone.
But regional parties were not far behind. Unsurprisingly, South Indian parties – the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK), the Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (ADMK), the Andhra Pradesh-based YSR Congress and the Karnataka-based Janata Dal Secular (JDS) were among the biggest spenders: Their average annual expenditure on elections was the highest. The Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) also spent lavishly.
Tamil Nadu has the unenviable record of being among the few Indian states where the Election Commission of India has countermanded polling because of seizure of cash.
In 2016 during the Assembly elections, polls were cancelled in two constituencies, Aravakurichi and Thanjavur, following the seizure of large sums of cash in both areas, linking candidates of the two main Dravidian parties with the intent to bribe voters.
In May 2015, a Telugu Desam Party MLA, A Revanth Reddy, was detained for one month without bail after the Anti-Corruption Bureau caught him red-handed giving cash to Elvis Stephenson, a nominated Anglo Indian MLA, to vote for the Telugu Desam Party candidate in the Legislative Council election.