Thursday, February 19, 2009

Thanks to democracy

In the India Today magazine Aroon Purie writes in the editorial: 

  • Thanks to a Supreme Court ruling in 2002, the filing of assets data is mandatory by anyone contesting an election. In order to establish exactly who are India’s rich politicians, we undertook a study along with, an initiative of the Liberty Institute led by Barun Mitra. It took three months of exhaustive research at the Election Commission and Rajya Sabha Secretariat by staffers Shyamlal Yadav and Sangram K. Parhi under the supervision of Managing Editor Shankkar Aiyar to list the richest politicians whose submissions are open to debate. 
  • The filing of assets data is mandatory but not verified. Some legislators have shown an increase in wealth of over 500 per cent in four years. Yet, the statistics are revealing. Of the 215 Rajya Sabha members for which we have data, 105 are crorepatis. Of the 522 Lok Sabha members, 135 are crorepatis. 
  • Members of legislative assemblies seem wealthier than many of the MPs. The top five MLAs across the 30 states are worth Rs 2,042 crore. Uttar Pradesh has the richest chief minister and 113 crorepati MLAs. One indication of how this money has been accumulated is that of 150 wealthiest MLAs, 59 don’t even have a PAN card! Our cover story looks at India’s richest politicians across various categories. A handful are legitimate businessmen, the rest only serve to reinforce the dubious nexus between power and money”.

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