If you thought contesting the 15th Lok Sabha elections to be the monopoly of crorepati MPs alone, with staggering bank balances, well that is not the case.
A total of 223 candidates across 177 constituencies have shown 'zero' assets (including movable and immovable) in their affidavits filed with nomination papers, according to latest data released by the National Election Watch, a nationwide campaign comprising of a conglomeration of NGOs and other citizen led organisations.
The data reveals there are 198 independent candidates, 8 from Indian National Congress, 7 from Bharatiya Janata Party, among others, in this 'zero' asset category, with Andhra Pradesh topping the list of housing the maximum number of such candidates, closely followed by Maharashtra and Karnataka.
"It is strange but a fact. When its raining crorepatis in this year's elections, 200 odd candidates with zero asset value is surprising," says Jagdeep Chokkar, Founder Member of National Election Watch and former Director, IIM Ahmedabad.
National Coordinator of the organisation, Anil Bairwal says there were certain adjustments and assumptions made to facilitate the calculation process in preparing the financial figures of candidates. "Some MPs declared few assets without giving the value. We have taken such assets to be of zero value as well. It becomes difficult to calculate an exact figure with such discrepancies," Bairwal told PTI.
Talking of crorepati candidates, a similar data released by the outfit estimates a 16 percent increase in the number of crorepatis as compared to 9 per cent in 2004. "There is a total of 1205 candidates as crorepatis in the five phases of elections. The Congress party has the highest with 261 candidates followed by BJP (177) and BSP (147)," says Jagdeep Chokkar.
"This is a very disturbing trend indeed.By doing this, political parties are favouring the small wealthy elite minority and excluding the participation of large majority in contesting elections," he adds.