ELECTIONS are expensive business, but not too weighty a challenge for the “well-off” legislators of Karnataka. This is what an analysis, done by Karnataka Election Watch (KEW), of the affidavits filed by Ministers and Members of the Legislative Assembly (MLAs) in the southern States before the Election Commission of India has found.

According to KEW, which is a “citizen-led, non-political, non-partisan NGO hoping to improve democracy”, the average assets of Karnataka’s MLAs (on the basis of the affidavits they filed during the 2008 elections) are worth Rs.5.98 crore, the highest among the four southern States. The average assets of legislators from Tamil Nadu (as per the 2011 affidavits) are worth Rs.3.98 crore, Andhra Pradesh (2009) Rs.3.78 crore, and Kerala (2011) Rs.1.43 crore.

Interestingly, the average assets of Karnataka’s MLAs show a quantum jump from the 2004 figure of Rs.1.29 crore (which is based on the affidavits filed by 186 of the 224 MLAs during the 2004 elections).

KEW, which analysed the affidavits of 24 of the 27 Cabinet Ministers, including the Chief Minister, pointed out that the average assets of a Minister in Karnataka were worth Rs.6.96 crore, recording a growth of 665 per cent over the previous (2004) Assembly elections, when they were only Rs.91 lakh.

While KEW estimates that parties and candidates will spend anywhere between Rs.6,000 crore and Rs.7,000 crore in the forthcoming elections, political analysts aver that each candidate from the main political outfits will be required to spend between Rs.5 crore and Rs.25 crore, depending on factors such as the geographic location and spread of the constituency, and the candidates’ popularity and financial wherewithal.

Ravi Sharma