One Out of Five Poll Candidates in Chhattisgarh, India’s Poorest State, a CrorepatiNovember 6, 2018
The state that has topped several poverty indices and has among the most development deficient districts in the country – has candidates who are about to fight in the first phase of Assembly polls with an average net worth of Rs 1.42 crore.
Of the nearly 190 candidates who are going to contest in the first phase of polls, 42 (or nearly 22%) are crorepatis.One candidate, Devwrat Singh, who is fighting from an Assembly segment in Bastar, is worth around Rs 120 crore. He is fighting from a Janta Congress ticket in Rajnandgaon’s Khairagarh constituency.
The third richest candidate, among those who have filed nominations for the first phase of polls, is the present Chief Minister, Raman Singh of the BJP, who has declared total assets of over Rs 10 crore. Leading the BJP campaign, Singh is fighting from his traditional Rajnandgaon constituency.
Mohan Lal Markam who is fighting from a reserved seat in Kondagaon in Bastar region on a Congress ticket is the second richest candidate. He has declared assets of over Rs 11 crore.
Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) has analysed assets and liablities of nearly 190 candidates who have filed nominations for 18 seats going to polls on November 12.
Nearly 40 per cent of the candidates fighting the first phase of Chhattisgarh Assembly polls have assets of over Rs 50 lakh, an analysis done by ADR has found.
This overwhelming financial strength perhaps puts the aspiring MLAs of Chhattisgarh in stark contrast to the rest of the state’s population — nearly 40% of which lives below poverty line, if one were to measure poverty by the yardstick recommended by the Suresh Tendulkar committee. Were one to go by the recommendations of the committee headed by C Rangarajan, former RBI governor and former chairperson of Prime Minister’s Economic Advisory Council, nearly 50% people in Chhattisgarh are below the poverty line.
In some areas, like Bijapur, more than 65% population was found to be living under the poverty line.
Both the Congress and the BJP have fielded 18 candidates in the first phase and both have fielded the same number of crorepati candidates – 13. But the average net worth of Congress nominees is much higher at Rs 2.9 crore, while those of BJP candidates is Rs 2.12 crore.
The same party which has fielded the richest candidate in the first phase of Chhattisgarh polls – Janta Congress – has also fielded a candidate, one Tankeswar Bhardwaj, from Chitrakoot reserved constituency, whose total assets are worth Rs 1 crore and whose total liabilities exceed Rs 41 crore.
The Bastar region particularly, all of whose constituencies are going to polls in six days from now, is among the most backward in the country, several surveys, including one done this year by NITI aayog, have found.