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India set to challenge US for election-spending record

Published on Mar 10, 2014 2:09 PM

NEW DELHI (REUTERS) - Indian politicians are expected to spend around US$5 billion (S$6.34 billion) on campaigning for elections next month - a sum second only to the most expensive US presidential campaign of all time - in a splurge that could give India's floundering economy a temporary boost.

India's campaign spend, which can include cash stuffed in envelopes as well as multi-million-dollar ad campaigns, has been estimated at 300 billion rupees (S$6.228 billion) by the Centre for Media Studies, which tracks spending.

That is triple the expenditure the centre said was spent on electioneering in the last national poll in 2009 - partly a reflection of a high-octane campaign by pro-business opposition candidate for prime minister, Narendra Modi, who started nationwide rallies and advertising last year.

"They started much before, and they are also focusing on states where they are traditionally not strong. They are leaving no area untouched," said N. Bhaskara Rao, chairman of the Centre for Media Studies.

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