Average asset per MLA in Karnataka is highest in South India
Even as candidates from various political parties are yet to submit their affidavits with their nomination papers to the ensuing Assembly elections scheduled for May 5, Karnataka Election Watch (KEW), which analysed the affidavits filed by MLAs and Ministers to the Election Commission of India in 2008, has said that average assets of MLAs is the highest at Rs. 5.98 crore in Karnataka compared with its three neighbouring States.
The Karnataka Assembly is followed by Tamil Nadu (2011) with an average of Rs. 3.98 crore, Andhra Pradesh (2009) with Rs. 3.78 crore and Kerala (2011) Rs.1.43 crore.
In the 2004 Assembly in Karnataka, the average assets of 186 out of 224 MLAs analysed was Rs. 1.29-crore, which points to steep increase between the elections.
KEW which analysed the affidavits of 24 of the 27 cabinet Ministers, including the Chief Minister, pointed out that the average assets of a Minister in Karnataka was Rs. 6.96 crore and recorded a growth of 665 per cent over the previous (2004) Assembly.
Prof. Tilochan Shastry of KEW said that the data with regards to three Ministers — S. Suresh Kumar, Revu Naik Belmagi and Kota Srinivasa Poojari — were not available for analysis.
The average assets of Ministers in the Karnataka Assembly which was Rs. 91 lakh in 2004 had climbed to Rs. 6.96 crore in 2008. The growth in average assets per Minister was 665 per cent from 2004 to 2008, he informed.
Mr. Shastry said that two Ministers had declared in their 2008 affidavits that there were serious Indian Penal Code (IPC) charges such as murder, attempt to murder, kidnapping against them.
Balachandra Lakshman Rao Jarkiholi, Municipal Administration Minister, has declared that he has one case against him including charges related to murder, attempt to murder, kidnapping and theft. C.T. Ravi, Minister for Higher Education, admitted having five criminal cases including charges of promoting enmity between groups of religion, race and language. As many as 42 per cent of ministers have declared that they have criminal cases against them.
Noting that 18 of the 24 Cabinet Ministers were millionaires, he said overall 61 per cent or 131 of the 215 analysed legislators were millionaires in Assembly in 2008.
Anand Singh of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) from Vijayanagar constituency had the highest assets (Rs. 88.66 crore), he was followed by V. Somanna (Rs.10.99 crore) and Anand Asnotikar (Rs. 10.39 crore).
R. Varthur Prakash with assets worth Rs. 2 lakh had the lowest asset among the Ministers, he said.
Stating that the spending by the parties and candidates in the coming election was expected to reach Rs. 6000 crore to Rs. 7000 crore, he said: “Nobody knows the exact quantum.”
KEW along with other NGOs would launch “My vote is not for sale”, a campaign to counter excessive spending in elections and wooing electorates through money and muscle power.