In the MCD election where almost 30% candidates are reportedly crorepatis, there are also at least 15 candidates whose net worth is below zero and who are in debt.
Hindustan Times analysed the affidavits of 2,130 candidates contesting the civic polls and found that there are at least 15 candidates whose dues far exceeded their declared assets. The net worth of the candidates was calculated by deducting declared liabilities, including outstanding loans, debts, and other government dues, against total declared personal assets (movable and immovable).
While most of the candidates found to be in debt are contesting as independents, two of them belong to the Aam Aadmi Party and one is from the Bharatiya Janata Party. The candidates owe between Rs10,000 to Rs88 lakh over and above the assets they own.
“Money is definitely needed for elections. But it can still be done within the set limit of Rs5 ,75,000,” said Sarika Suman, AAP candidate from north Delhi’s Nithari. Though she has assets worth over Rs65.4 lakh, she also has a loan of approximately Rs87.9 lakh, which she had taken to buy a flat in Rohini. This brings her net worth to a negative of Rs22.4 lakhs.
Raj Kumar, BJP candidate from Mahavir Enclave, also has a net worth below zero, at a negative of Rs1.3 lakh. Kumar has declared moveable assets, like cash, bank balances, and gold, worth Rs7.2 lakh rupees, and has said he does not own any property. However, he has a loan worth Rs8.5 lakh pending according to his affidavit.
When asked how they will reconcile their financial situation with a job like a councillor’s, where you are not paid a salary, they both look unfazed. “Voters are not interested in whether I have money. They are interested in whether I will work. They know I am selfless and honest. I have been associated with the BJP for years, and have been doing social work in my locality since 2008,” said Kumar.
Nine out of the 16 candidates come from a business background, as do the two candidates themselves. “I will be the councillor, if I win, and money is not my aim. My husband is a businessman, and he will be able to pay back the loans,” said Suman.