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Cash for votes - some investment mathematics

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"The rates have gone up". "Many of them want touch phones". "down payment for a new bike". "Digital box for TV" (remember the digitization deadline?). The murmurs are on. The "cash rates" are as high as Rs 4000. "Give them a photocopy of your voter id card" to "avail the offer". Speeches from the battery of half a dozen recent chief ministers, and the Modis, Gandhis and Singhs is one thing, and this elephant in the room another. Churumuri has a list of more such "kind" alternatives to cash that could be in use during this election: Quoting from 12 ways ...:

# Tankers carrying water.
# JCBs and atractors to do any kind of earth work in your field, either freely or at heavily subsidized rates.
# Borewell rigs to dig borewells.
# Books for students.
# Access to government welfare programs and services – from old age pension to various subsidies that the state government offers; from subscription to Yashasvini medical insurance scheme to free ration from government ration shops.

Watches too!?

JD (S) leader PGR Sindhia claimed that Congress leader DK Shivakumar was distributing watches ...

If all this is really true, why is it so hard to catch and report some of this? If it really is that hard to track such "transactions" and then link them to a candidate? 

Writing this "armchair" post to:

  1. Check on what all you 'know' or have 'heard' about this side of elections? How prevalent is all this?
  2. Wonder if there are some workable ideas around to make such tracking possible!?
  3. And, try some maths that may be in the minds of the parties or candidates

Now, some ROI maths

Let us take a consituency, say Chikkballapur.

  • As per empower india, in 2008 elections, around 159952 guys voted.
  • Winner got 39.49% of votes, runner up got 21.01, third position got 17.49%
  • Winner + Runner up combined 77.99% of votes = 124747 votes.

'Investment' Per Constituency

Now, Assuming that "transactions" happened for 20% of these votes, or for 24949 votes

  • If @ Rs 500 each, amount involved = Rs 1,24,74,500 about 1.24 Crores
  • If @ 2000 each ~ Rs 3.72 Crores

Even if we raise this to Rs 15 Crores, and divide equally between top 3 parties, the amount comes up to Rs 5 Crore per constituency per party. Taken across all 224 constituencies, a party could be looking at Rs 1120 Crores of 'investment' in the elections.

'Returns' on Investment

Rs 5 Cr / Constituency - how big is this number ? Assuming a 10% "cover charge" on public projects, the winning candidate would be abe to "recover" the "investment" in just Rs 50 Crore worth of contracts.

Lets look at some numbers to validate this. Refer Karnataka state budget for 2013-2014 (big PDF, careful), page #106, "SECTORAL ALLOCATION FOR 2013-14 *"

  Sector In Rs Crore
1 Agriculture & Horticulture 4402
2 Animal Husbandry & Fisheries 1357
3 Home & Transport 5138
4 Rural Development & Panchayat Raj 7354
5 Social Welfare 4698
6 Women & Child Development 3350
7 Revenue 3440
8 Housing 1130
9 Education 18666
10 Commerce & Industries 936
11 Urban Development 9654
12 Public Works 5321
13 Water Resources 9084
14 Health & Family Welfare 5293
15 Energy 10831

To be conservative here, let us pick only three "lucrative" parts of this budget that could bring "returns" to the winning party. Allocation for Public works, Urban development, rural development combined is about Rs 22329 Crore. 10% "malai" of this = Rs 2233 Crore. And remember, this is the amount from only 1 year's budget.

2233 Crore / 224 Constituency = Rs 10 Crores per constituency. Our number above was Rs 5 Crores.  So, if the party/candidate gets lucky, the "investment" pays back for itself in less than one year.



silkboard's picture

Some reports

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Around Rs. 1.4 crore cash and 500 cases of liquor have been seized ... cash seizures included those from Hiriyur (Rs. 60 lakh), Varthur (Rs. 25 lakh), Gokak (Rs. 11 lakh), Savadatti (Rs. 8.38 lakh), Malur (Rs. six lakh) and Tiptur and Raichur (Rs. five lakh each) since yesterday.

More than 10 Crore ...

"Since the poll process has started, more than Rs 10 crore unaccounted cash has been seized. In addition, articles worth Rs 1.18 crore had also been seized," chief electoral officer (CEO) Anil Kumar Jha told reporters.

silkboard's picture

'Congress paid the most'

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Casual asking around brought up some interesting numbers. These are anecdotal, and unverified. But verbatim from what we heard from some people who were off during election days and away at their native villages.

From Kanakapura area.

  • "Congress is paying the most. Rs 1000 per person. And watches for everyone in the family. JD-S is next, Rs 500, and then BJP, Rs 250".
  • "I got the money from the village head. Wonder if Rs 1000 is the rate, or if he keeps a cut of it. If hee keeps a cut, then not fair, all the money should be given to me. ITs my money, I do the party a favor by voting, and I get money for it, what is wrong with that"
  • "Money is given to the male head of the family"

The family came back happy from the election trip, richer by Rs 4000, and four watches :) I am not sure if the "lower" numbers about BJP and JD-S came directly from the "workers" of those two parties. I suspect that the Congress worker supplied this "lower rate" data to them so that they don't shop around for the money.

From a village area within the city limits:

  • "They had come to my old address to pay. but I was not home"
  • "Congress is paying the most, Rs 750-1000"

Don't know how this person knew about Congress paying the "most". Will try and probe if he checked around with BJP and JD-S workers.

Now, this is about other ways to make money. This person was on leave during the week leading to elections, doing the work of pamphlet/flag distribution type of work for the parties.

  • "Congress gives Rs 500 per day for election work, and JD-S Rs 250"
  • "I worked for both, and made Rs 750 per day!"

Nothing wrong with that, right?

Money now for the voters, money down the drain for losers, and money over next five years for the winner. Shabaash.

MaheshK's picture

Good investment strategy

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Well, what kind of people we have then? They wont vote unless they are paid, cash or kind or both. Forget casting vote is the right in a democracy. They will hold the netas for ransom. The same people will teach the tricks of the trade to their children and it will continue.Will there be a change down the road? Hope there will be, but I am not sure. This is the ground reality and most "armchair philosophers" (such as B-PAC and some in Praja) dont want to see it.

Coming to the calculations, lets take an average of Rs 2,000 per vote (including cash per day, cash for vote on the spot, watches, sarees, beer, arrack, all inclusive). If the candidate gets 40,000 and wins, that's about Rs. 8 crores. One undepass work and couple of roads should get the investment back along with huge profit. Part of that profit will be be used for the next election. How cool it could get?

kbsyed61's picture

Different stages, Different rates!

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Interesting figures and data. I believe it all depends upon various stages of our democratic process of electing MPs/MLAs.

It is 100, 200 per day during campaign, 500,1000 on the day of election. Post election it could be 15-20 Crores per MLA for support as we experience during the 'Operation Lotus' by the Party with Difference. It is well know who sponsored those funds from Mining wealth.

Then we also heard about, the mining barons of Bellary went further ahead and planned for 2000 crore to make their Guru/Thaii 'Swaraj' PM in 2014, spending 10 Crores on 200 constituencies and candidates.

If a poor takes 500, it is the murder of democracy, but if MP/MLA takes 10-15 crores it is an art and strategy.

silkboard's picture

It was depressing. Where are the journalists?

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Mahesh - after feeling the high of feeling equal through voting, coming back home and hearing the numbers, and hearing the viewpoint that the "it is my money", it felt low and depressing.

What surprises me is that if it is so easy for me to ask around and find out these figures, why is this not the newspaper headline everyday? Perhaps they all love to hide behind "responsible" journalism. How hard would it be for a journalist to do a "trace the election money" all the way from campaign offices to voter's houses? I would love to read such a story, the numbers in between, how the book keeping accounting is done by parties at constituency level. I sincerely hope that this story is coming, sometime this month itself. Hindu or DNA perhaps :)

Brahmanyan's picture

Cash for Votes

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Politics  has become big business to make quick money. All sort of people enter this field to multiply their wealth. Soon they find that Money has no value unless it is spent.  This urge prompts them to reinvest the same.  Spending on election by the candidates is nature's way of purging the ill gotten wealth. But the success of democracy lies in the hands of voter and he should decide his selection of candidate without relevance to the money he gets.



MaheshK's picture

This is not new

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Cash for vote is not new. It has been there since 70s. It used to be Rs. 5 or Rs. 10. Inflation has caught up.

Media can only do so much. They have a business to run. Journos need to protect themselves from goons, if they report the truth. Threatning calls would be common. Everyone knows the reality. Poor cant read what's in the newspaper. Educated are scared to fight. Courts take years / decades to come to a decision. What else to be done?

Bheema.Upadhyaya's picture

Don't take me wrong.

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I am of openion that voters should get money for voting, officially from government. If not money, anything worthy. Why?

- Its a way of previous government to thank the voter for their support

- In theory, the voter is doing his fundamental duty as responsible citizen. But in practise, he/she is spending valuable time in voting.(at least an hour. Suppose, 100% voting happens in Karnataka, 4 crore+ man hours spent. If one per person earns INR 25/Hr (@200INR/8Hrs) then its equalent of public money of INR100 Crore. So that should be reimbursed :)

- Directly giving money will discourage parties using money power to certain extent

- Voter turn-out *WILL* increase for sure.

- Voter will have satisfaction of having got official money, rather than getting bribed (Yes people are getting bribed, so why just blame govt. officials)

Comments are welcome, both positive and negative. If positive thoughts come, we can start pProject (Praja Project) to go further! If negative thoughts dominate, RIP :)

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