In Gujarat, politicians are known to be business-friendly and businessmen routinely enter politics. So, it is not unusual to encounter crorepatis among the candidates in the coming assembly polls.
Data compiled by the National Election Watch shows that around 30% of the 482 candidates — whose affidavit details were available — are crorepatis. The combined wealth of the 20 richest candidates was estimated at Rs. 625 crore.
The average asset per candidate for Congress is Rs.6.40 crore, for BJP is Rs.4.48 crore and for GPP Rs.1.07 crore.
The top slot so far belongs to builder-turned-politician from Rajkot, Indraneel Rajguru, whose assets total Rs.122.6 crore.
Rajguru is making his political debut on a Congress ticket. Congress candidate from Manavadar Assembly seat in Junagadh district, Javaharbhai Chavda, has assets worth R82 crore.
The surprise entry into the list is the Bahujan Samaj Party candidate for Somnath assembly seat in Junagadh district — Rajabhai Parmar.
Parmar's assets are worth R41 crore, making him the third richest candidate so far. His affidavit with the Election Commission says he has never filed returns with the I-T department.
In fact, 21% candidates — whose data is available — have not declared their Permanent Account Number (PAN) details.
The fourth and fifth positions are held by the Solanki brothers, with a combined wealth of Rs.71 crore.
Purushottam Solanki, contesting on a BJP ticket from Bhavnagar Rural segment, is the junior fisheries minister in the Modi cabinet. A former detainee of the erstwhile TADA, Solanki is a well known name in the Mumbai underworld and was also indicted by Srikrishna Commission, which probed the Mumbai riots.
His younger brother Hirabhai Solanki is a BJP legislator from Rajula segment. The brothers have interests in real estate and construction in Gujarat and Mumbai and hospitality business in Diu, Mumbai and Gujarat.
On a different note, the National Election Watch said every fourth candidate in the fray so far was facing criminal cases. Charges have been framed against at least one in six candidates. Every major party has given tickets to candidates who have declared criminal cases.
(With PTI inputs)