Amid growing demands for transparency in public life, the Prime Minister's Office has put the wealth details of the entire council of ministers in public domain by posting them on its website. This is a continuation of the practice started last year.
The details of 72 of the total number of 77 ministers can be accessed on the Prime Minister's Office website.Barring science and technology minister Vilasrao Deshmukh; minister of state with independent charge for women and child development, Krishna Tirath, and newcomers Jayanthi Natarajan, Jitendra Singh and S Jagathrakshakan, all ministers have provided their assets details.
Hindustan Times had first reported about the Prime Minister's Office reminder to all the ministers to submit their wealth details last week.
The declaration, required under the code of conduct for ministers, also follows Prime Minister Manmohan Singh taking strong exception to remarks made by senior BJP leader Murli Manohar Joshi in Parliament on his personal integrity during a debate last month.
Speaking on the debate on corruption in Lok Sabha on August 25, Singh had said he was hurt by the remarks, which attacked his personal integrity during his long years in public life.
Former cabinet secretary, KM Chandrasekhar, had in June directed all ministers to send their assets declaration to the Prime Minister.
"I have been directed by the Prime Minister to apprise you of the declarations required by a member of the Union council of ministers in accordance with the Code of Conduct for Ministers," Chandrasekhar had stated in a letter.
According to the declarations, this is how the big four in the Union cabinet stack up: finance minister Pranab Mukherjee is worth around Rs 3 crore, home minister P Chidambaram around Rs 23 crore, defence minister AK Antony around Rs 1.82 lakh (Rs 39 lakh along with his wife) and external affairs minister SM Krishna commands a little over Rs 1.6 crore.
As for the prime minister himself, in the three-page declaration, his personal wealth, which included properties and cash, has been estimated at Rs 5.1 crore.