Wealth of 54 Himachal MLAs up by 172% in 5 years

Shimla: Being in politics, asset value of 54 MLAs re-contesting the assembly elections in five years grew by 172 % and the asset value of 112 election candidates who were also in the fray in 2007 growing by 122 percent showed the wealth being accumulated by politicians that no other business afforded, National Election Watch (NEW) data showed.

National Election Watch founder member Jagdeep Chhokar after releasing the data here said, “the growing wealth of leaders showed the corporatization of politics in the state as was the trend elsewhere in the country.”

He said that while the common man continued to struggle to make ends meet, the increase in asset value of politicians as analyzed from the data in the affidavits filed before the election commission exceed profits most businesses can make in five years.

While the average asset value of 54 MLAs in 2007 was 1.38 crore; in the fray again for the 2012 election, their average asset value had gone upto Rs 2.37 crore (172% increase).

The highest increase in asset value recorded was that of Anil Sharma, a Congress MLA from Mandi whose net worth had increased from Rs 3.11 crore in 2007 to Rs 29.70 crore in 2012, followed by GS Bali, Congress MLA from Nagrota, whose asset value increased from Rs 3.81 crore in 2007 to Rs 24.81 crore in 2012.

Vidya Stokes, the senior Congress contesting elections from Theog had an asset value of Rs 97 lakhs in 2007 which has increased to Rs 7.07 crore in 2012.

In percentage terms, Subhash Manglate the Congress MLA from Chopal recorded a phenomenal 3621% increase in asset value in five years. In the earlier election the legislator had a net worth of Rs 19.42 lakhs which has increased to Rs 7.22 crore.

Others MLAs with high percentage jumps in asset value are Sanjay Kumar, BJP, from Rs 3.5 lakhs in 2007 to Rs 73.5 lakhs, Rajiv Sahjal (BJP) increase from Rs 1.5 lakhs to Rs 31 lakhs, Kishori Lal (BJP) Rs 6 lakhs to Rs 1.08 crore and Ram Lal Markanda (BJP) an increase from Rs 8 lakhs to Rs 1.07 crore

Net worth of four MLAs, Khushi Ram Balnath, a BJP MLA now contesting on a Himachal Lokhit Party ticket, Govind Ram, the BJP MLA from Arki, Harshwardhan Chauhan, Congress MLA from Shillai and Lakhvinder Singh, Congress MLA from Nalagarh, have fallen from the last election that they contested.

Interestingly, Lakhvinder Singh who won the 2011 bye-election had reported an asset worth of Rs 36.34 crore but in 2012 he has declared an asset worth of only Rs 12.82 crore.

Among the candidates who contested elections in 2007 and are again in the fray asset value of Brij Bihari Butail, the Congress candidate from Palampur, is the richest among all politicians in Himachal. The tea estate owner politicians’ net worth, which was 91.92 crore in 2007, had increased to a staggering Rs 169.21 crore in 2012.

The second richest candidate in the fray in a first timer is Balbir Verma contesting as an independent candidate from Chopal. He has declared an asset value of Rs 41 crore followed by Ram Kumar, the new Congress candidate from Doon whose asset value is Rs 36 crore.

Five time former chief minister Virbhadra Singh has declared a total asset value of Rs 33.65 crore which earlier was Rs 24.18 Cr.

Bumber Thakur, the Congress candidate from Bilaspur who net worth was Rs 1.35 lakhs in 2007 had increased to Rs 1.02 Cr, recording a growth of 7463 percent, NEW data showed.

Average assets of the 112 candidates who contested the 2007 elections and are again contesting has increased from Rs 1.9 crore to Rs 2.33 Cr (122%).

Over all there are 459 candidates in the fray in the elections but NEW was only able to analyze data of 445 candidates and found that 146 of them were crorepatis.

Whereas the percentage of crorepatis in 2007 elections was 16 percent it has gone up to 33 % in the current elections.

Om Prakash, an election candidate from Baijnath with an total asset value of Rs 2000 was the poorest candidate in the fray, followed by Rama Mahendra a candidate from Palampur and Shiv Kumar a candidate from Sarkaghat who have reported a total asset value of Rs 10 thousand only.

Among political parties, the average worth of 68 Congress candidates in the current election is Rs 7.39 crore, that of a BJP candidate is Rs 1.55 Crore, CPI(M) is Rs 1.72 Crore, NCP is Rs 77.61 lakhs and BSP is Rs 54.32 lakhs.

In educational terms, 56 percent of the candidates are graduates and 3 crorepattis have not declared their PAN details in the affidavits filed.

Of the 445 candidates there were only 27 (6%) women candidates fielded by all political parties. In 2007 elections of the 336 candidates there were 25 (7%) women candidates.

A total of 42 (9%) candidates were over 65 years of age.

As Editor, Ravinder Makhaik leads a team of media professionals at Hill Post. Spanning a career of over two decades in mass communication, as a Documentary Filmmaker, TV journalist, Print Media journalist and with Online & Social Media, he brings with him a vast experience. He lives in Shimla.

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