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Richest MLAs of Delhi

January 3, 2015

The influence of big money on politics is more obvious than ever and huge expenses in election campaigning is reflective of the growing role of money power. It is no coincidence therefore that politics is fast becoming the domain of the rich and powerful with an ever-growing number of moneyed politicians.

Richest MLAs of Delhi

The case of Delhi is no different. Here the percentage of crorepati MLAs rose from 69 in 2008 to 73 after the assembly election in 2013. More significantly, the average asset per Delhi legislator saw a sharp rise from Rs. 2.94 crore in 2008 elections to 10.83 crore in 2013, while the number of crorepati MLAs rose from 47 in the 70-member Delhi assembly in 2008 to 51 in 2013.

The rise could be attributed to the appreciation of land prices in the national capital. Yet, the role of money cannot be negated in electoral politics. Even the Aam Aadmi Party – that called itself to be the representative of the down and poor – had at least a dozen crorepatis among its 28 legislators in the last House. Out of 31 BJP legislators, 30 were crorepatis, while seven of the eight Congress legislators too belonged to this exclusive club of crorepatis.

Yet, the richest MLA in the last House was Manjinder Singh Sirsa with a declared asset of over Rs. 235 crore. He had won from West Delhi’s Rajouri Garden constituency on Shiromani Akali Dal’s ticket.

Another legislator with over Rs. 100 crore assets was the BJP legislator from Bijwasan in South-West Delhi, Sat Prakash Rana, who was worth over Rs. 111 crore. Yet, his assets were comparatively much lesser and worth only Rs. 6.38 crore in 2008! Another legislator, Dharm Dev Solanki of BJP, who had won from Palam Consituency, saw a rise of 191 per cent in his assets during his five-year term as an MLA and his asset grew from Rs. 9.42 crore in 2008 to Rs. 27.43 crore in 2013. Similarly, assets of BJP’s Ramesh Bidhuri rose from just Rs. One crore in 2008 to Rs. 15 crore in 2013 and that of BJP legislator Parlad Singh Sawhney’s from Rs. 11 crore in 2008 to Rs. 25 crore in 2013.
Among the ten richest legislators in the last House, seven belonged to the BJP while only two belonged to the Congress. Yet the SAD legislator Sirsa, led the pack, being the richest of them all.

A study by Delhi based voluntary organisation, Association for Democratic Reforms, further establishes a co-relationship between money and candidature in elections. According to the study, the crorepati candidates had 26 per cent higher chances of winning elections, but it was just seven per cent for a candidate with low assets. Little surprise therefore that 43 MLAs or a cool 61 per cent of the winning candidates occupied top three highest asset positions in their respective constituency, and 17 of them had the highest declared assets in their constituency.

None of the political parties including the AAP could ignore the worth of money power and little surprise therefore that the BJP, which emerged as the largest party in the 2013 elections in Delhi, had the average asset per MLA at Rs. 12.49 crore. Even the relatively poor AAP had an average asset per MLA worth Rs. 1.82 crore, while the Congress’ ratio was Rs. 10.25 crore per MLA.

Obviously statistics show that given the choice, moneyed candidates are preferred by the political parties. However, what is worrisome is that politics has become a tool of making the personal coffer fatter for the elected representatives in Delhi.

Consider that the average assets of 22 Delhi MLAs, who got re-elected in 2013 had increased by a phenomenal 338 per cent since the 2008 elections and stood at Rs. 14.22 crore in 2013 as against Rs. 3.24 crore just five years ago, cutting across party lines.

The party-wise growth in the income of these re-elected MLAs was even more astonishing. While the 13 re-elected BJP MLAs had an average asset increase of 392 per cent (Rs. 14.10 crore), the assets of the Congress’ eight re-elected MLAs had on an average increased by 237 per cent (Rs. 7.20 crore). Even the lone Janata Dal (United) legislator saw a 164 per cent rise in his asset in five years period.

Ostensibly money begets money faster in politics than in other vocations. What makes Delhi special is not that it is also the national capital besides being a city state, but also the fact that it had figured as the number one state in terms of crorepati MLAs, among the five states – Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, and Mizoram besides Delhi — that simultaneously went to polls in late 2013. Interestingly, at least a dozen MLAs even declared liabilities of Rs. One crore and above and yet again, the leader of the pack was Sirsa, with declared liabilities worth a whopping Rs. 32.01 crore.

Yet, despite its tilt towards moneyed candidates, electoral politics is also a great leveller. Consider that Sushil Gupta of the Congress, despite having assets worth over Rs. 164 crore, lost last time. And so did Ashok, another crorepati candidate of the Congress with an asset of over Rs. 143 crore, and the Bahujan Samaj Party’s Dheeraj Kumar, who lost despite having assets worth over Rs. 100 crore.

The percentage of such crorepatis losing is much less in comparison to the crorepati winners. So isn’t electoral politics fast becoming the exclusive domain of the rich? The political saga in the country, though, is replete with the David versus Goliath examples. Even in Delhi there were persons like Dharmender Singh Koli with assets worth a meagre Rs. 20,800, and Rakhi Birla, who won elections as AAP’s candidate last time, with assets worth just Rs. 51,150. But aren’t Koli and Birla rare exceptions in the goldmine of electoral politics?

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Disclaimer: The views expressed are of those of the author and do not represent the views of Elections.in.

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