In 2007, a number of the current lot of municipal councillors started off with a modest bank balance — mostly in lakhs. But when their asset declarations were made public by the state election commission (SEC) on Wednesday, many of them reported a manifold increase in their wealth.
If the affidavits filed by a number of sitting councillors in 2007 and 2012 are compared, there has been a rise of as much as 400-500 per cent in their immoveable and moveable assets.
The wealth of MCD Leader of House Subhash Arya has grown seven-eight times. Arya, who is contesting from Rajouri Garden, has Rs 95.64 lakh moveable property. His wife has R91.46 lakh movable property and the couple together own 3kg of gold and 4kg of silver. Arya’s wife has property worth Rs 5.08 crore. Compare this to the 2007 elections when Arya had reported moveable assets of just R13.50 lakh and immoveable assets of R70 lakh only.
Justifying the increase, Arya said, “Ancestral gold and property's values have increased manifold over the past few years. I have not added any assets.”
Congress's Anita Babbar, former Mayor and candidate from west Delhi's Tilak Nagar, is another millionaire candidate who owns moveable and immoveable assets worth R4.82 crore together with her spouse.
Five years ago, the couple had assets worth R1.35 crore. Babbar and her husband own five vehicles while in 2007, they had three vehicles.
Yashpal Arya, a BJP councillor from Mahavir Nagar, claims to be a pensioner but has bought property worth R1.70 crore whereas in 2007, it was nil.
The commission is yet to compile and upload the full asset details of all the candidates on its website.
As per information available, BJP’s Satwinder Kaur Sirsa — wife of sitting BJP councillor Manjinder Singh — is the only billionaire candidate so far — she has declared assets worth Rs 112.13 crore in her affidavit.
Thirty-six-year-old Satwinder has moveable property worth R91.42 lakh and possesses immovable property worth R7.70 crore. Satwinder is now contesting from Punjabi Bagh, which was earlier held by her husband. The seat is now reserved for women.
In contrast, there are some new candidates whose affidavits state that they don't have a single penny. Sonu Suri, a candidate of Indian Democratic Party in west Delhi's Raja Garden, is virtually penniless and has no moveable or immoveable assets in her name.
‘Younger faces needed in politics’
Ankita Saini, 22
Contesting from Hauz Khas
She left the comforts of a life in Canada to come back and find solutions to Delhi’s civic issues. Ankita Saini may be the youngest candidate in these polls but she says she has her priorities in place. Motivated by her husband and in-laws, this mother of a three-month old son wants to work for ‘a more hygienic’ Delhi.
Four years ago, her life was a far cry from the daily grind of contesting an election. A student of International Business Marketing, she was studying at Humber College, Toronto. She returned to the city in 2009, got married and has been working for BJP since then.
Her many challenges include filling in the shoes of former mayor Arti Mehra who picked her from among many contenders. “Mehra told she was impressed by me,” she said.
So how does she intend to act her age and also work for politics? “I do go for movies with my friends. But younger faces are needed in politics. I want to connect to youth through sms campaigns and Facebook,” Saini said.
- Hamari Jamatia. HTC
Delhi’s lone billionaire candidate
Satwinder Kaur, 36
Contesting from Punjabi Bagh
In the last MCD polls, Satwinder Kaur had accompanied her husband during his election campaign in Punjabi Bagh. But with the seat now reserved for women, their roles have reversed. Manjinder Singh Sirsa, the sitting councillor, will now accompany Kaur on her campaigns.
If elected, Kaur wants to take forward the “good work” done by her husband. “I will construct more toilet complexes for women and open new training institutes for them,” she said.
She agrees the job will be demanding, especially with two young children aged 14 and 10, to take care of. “But I am confident I will be able to strike a balance, she said.”
Sirsa was one of the richest councillors having assets worth nearly R100 crore. With combined declared assets worth R12.13 crore, Kaur is the only billionaire candidate in these elections. Sirsa is an agriculturist who is also into real estate business. The couple own six cars, including Range Rover, Bentley and an Audi.
- Neelam Pandey, HTC
The Wealthy Wise | Your Councillor's Report Card