Gangabai Ureti, the Congress MLA from Shahpura in Dindori, grew 33 years older in the last five years. The stress of an MLA’s job did not take the same toll on the youthfulness of other MLAs. Some like the BJP’s Ramkhelawan Patel, the MLA from Satna’s Amarpatan, grew a year younger.
An analysis of the affidavits filed by 144 MLAs of the two main parties Congress and BJP, who are standing for re-election, show that 43 of them did not report the normal increase of five years in age, in five years of the current Vidhan Sabha’s term. These include three cabinet ministers, namely Rajendra Shukla, Jagganath Singh and Karan Singh Verma.
Mrs. Ureti’s affidavit in 2008 says she was 42 years then. Her recent affidavit says she’s 75. When The Hindu called her number on Sunday, a person who identified herself as her daughter said, “75 is the correct age. We don’t have time for your questions as we are campaigning.” Campaigning officially ended at 5 p.m. on Saturday.
Joint Chief Electoral Officer SS Bansal explained that no action is usually taken as not everyone is sure of their age. “There is no malafide intent. The Supreme Court is strict nowadays so people have given their correct age this time. Otherwise, some lawyer or party worker used to fill the forms and guess the age of the candidate. The matter goes for adjudication only if someone complains. We usually take up cases that involve wilful misuse like fake caste certificates,” he told this paper.
Labour Minister Jagannath Singh who grew from 57 to 66 between 2008 and 2013 placed the ball back in the Election Commission’s court. “We enter whatever age of ours is given on the voters list. Else our nominations get rejected,” he explained.
Mr. Singh’s reason is probably correct as even this reporter’s data on the voter’s list shows him to be a year younger than he actually. Filing a false affidavit however, remains a criminal offence in India.