In the high-stakes parliamentary elections in Himachal Pradesh on Saturday, more than 50 percent of candidates are crorepatis. The Congress, pinning its hopes on anti-incumbency, has nearly 90 percent crorepati candidates compared to 82 percent crorepati nominees in the ruling BJP seeking a comeback. This means that 61 Congress and 56 BJP candidates are crorepatis.
According to a report by the Association of Democratic Reforms (ADR), 55 percent (226) of the 412 candidates running for the election are on the crorepati list. Not only this, some of these crorepati candidates even have criminal charges against them. However, at the top of crorepatis’ list is a candidate of the BJP, despite a higher number of congressional candidates on the rich list.
The ADR report states that the Aam Aadmi party now has 52 percent candidates in this category. The party has fielded candidates in 67 out of a total of 68 constituencies and has 35 crorepati nominees.
Also in the rich list are 25 percent (13) BSP candidates along with 36 percent (four) CPI(M) nominees. The BSP is competing for 53 seats. Not only this, 45 independent candidates are also crorepatis.
BJP candidate tops rich list, 66 ‘criminal crorepatis’
The BJP candidate from Chopal constituency in Shimla, Balvir Singh Verma, tops the list of crorepati candidates with a total net worth of Rs 128 crore.
Former Prime Minister Virbhadra Singh’s son Vikramaditya Singh, who is fighting the elections from the Shimla Rural seat, comes second with total assets of Rs 101 crore. Son of the late Congress leader GS Bali, Nagrota candidate RS Bali is third on the list with a total net worth of Rs 96.36 crore.
Of the more than 200 crorepati candidates, 66 are facing criminal charges. Rakesh Singha of the CPI(M) of the Theog seat faces a maximum number of criminal cases of 30, while his co-party leader Kuldip Singh Tanwar of the Kasumapti seat in Shimla district also faces 20 cases. Virbhadra’s son Vikramaditya faces 11 criminal cases.
Increasing the assets of re-disputing MLAs
Another ADR report highlighted that the assets of 84 percent that MLAs are re-challenging have increased, ranging from 5 percent to 1,167 percent. The assets of 49 of the 58 re-disputed MLAs have thus increased. The report also found that the assets of nine MLAs (16 percent) had declined, ranging from (-) 4 percent to (-) 37 percent.
The average assets of these 58 re-disputed MLAs settled by various parties including independents in 2017 was Rs 9.30 crore, which rose to Rs 12.08 crore in 2022. Thus, the average asset growth for these MLAs between 2017 and 2022 is Rs 2.77 crore while in percentage terms the growth is 30 percent.
Verma, who tops the rich list this time, declared the maximum increase of Rs 37.71 crore in assets since 2017. The assets of BJP’s Anil Sharma increased by Rs 17.23 crore from Rs 40.24 crore in 2017 to Rs 57. .48 crore in 2022. Vikramaditya’s assets have also increased by Rs 17.06 crore from Rs 84.32 crore in 2017 to Rs 101.39 crore in 2022.
Analyzing the increase batchwise, the average assets of 35 re-contesting BJP candidates increased by Rs 3.20 crore (44 percent) to Rs 10.46 crore in 2022 from Rs 7.25 crore in 2017. For 20 congressional candidates, the average asset increase is Rs 2.3 crore (17.72 percent) to Rs 15.31 crore in 2022 from Rs 13.01 crore in 2017.
More than 55 lakh voters in the Hill State will decide the fate of the 412 candidates on Saturday in 68 constituencies, including Prime Minister Jairam Thakur, Vikramaditya Singh and former BJP chief Satpal Singh Satti.
Record money, booze, freebies seized in HP, Gujarat: EC
The Election Commission described it as a “record” and said nearly 11 lakh liters of liquor, freebies worth Rs 65 crore and Rs 17.84 crore in cash, intended to lure voters, have been seized from the poll-bound Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh. In the Hill State, the number of repossessions had increased fivefold compared to the 2017 election polls, the EC added.
Himachal Pradesh will go to the polls on Saturday while Gujarat will vote in two phases on December 1 and 5. The counting of votes will take place on December 8.
Seizures in Himachal Pradesh are significant, amounting to Rs 50.28 crore compared to Rs 9.03 crore five years ago, representing a more than five-fold increase, the EC said. It gave details and said that Rs 17.18 crore in cash, liquor worth Rs 17.5 crore, drugs worth Rs 1.2 crore and freebies worth Rs 41 lakh were seized until Nov. Himachal Pradesh.
The polling panel pointed out that even during the recent bypolls in seven assembly constituencies in Bihar, Odisha, Maharashtra, Telangana, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh, significant seizures of Rs 9.35 crore were made. It also noted that record seizures were made in the “highly expenditure sensitive” Munugode assembly district in Telangana, where cash worth Rs 6.6 crore, along with thousands of liters of spirits and Rs 1.78 crore worth of precious metals, was confiscated.
(with PTI inputs)
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