About 20 out 49 regional parties spent more than the total funds they collected during the three Lok Sabha elections between 2004 and 2014, a report said, raising questions about huge amounts of “unaccounted” money floating during election time.

In the three Lok Sabha elections, the parties collected a total of ₹2,355.35 crore, of which ₹1,039.06 crore was by cash, ₹1,299.53 crore was by cheque and ₹16.76 crore was collected ‘in kind’.

However, collectively these parties declared having spent only ₹257.61 crore in cash and ₹2,044.67 crore by cheque, with ₹163.79 crore “remaining unpaid” (outstanding) at the time of submission of their reports, says an analysis by the Association of Democratic Reforms (ADR), a non-profit election watchdog.

AIADMK tops lists The AIADMK, which is in power in Tamil Nadu, topped the list by declaring that it collected a total of ₹37.66 crore and spent ₹39.31 crore. The Shiromani Akali Dal followed with collections of ₹23.89 crore and a spend of ₹28.67 crore. The highest collection was reported by Samajwadi Party (₹118 crore), which spent ₹90.9 crore.

A total of ₹58.56 crore remained “unpaid” in the poll expenditure submitted by 20 political parties. The AIADMK was at the top, accounting for ₹25.91 crore (66 per cent of its total expenditure), Samajwadi Party ₹9.72 crore (11 per cent) and YSR Congress at ₹5.6 crore (31 per cent), the ADR report said.

No cap on party spend Pointing out that the Election Commission’s cap on spending by a candidate — but not on political parties — was one reason for “unaccounted” money floating around during elections, ADR said citing a Reserve Bank letter raising an alarm over about ₹1 lakh crore cash withdrawals from banks before elections, especially in southern India.

“At a time when India is trying to go global and is striving for international benchmarks, the country is least transparent when it comes to funding of political parties,” said ADR’s Trilochan Shastry, a professor at IIM Bangalore.

ADR has been demanding that all political parties be brought under the Right to Information Act and that details of all donors for poll campaigns be put up in public domain.