As many as 45, or one out of every six candidates, have declared assets worth more than Rs 1 crore (Rs 10 million) in Karnataka's first phase of elections slated April 23.
According to New Election Watch (NEW), which is tracking assets and criminal records of candidates, Surendra Babu, the Janata Dal-Secular (JD-S) from Bangalore North constituency, tops the list with assets worth Rs 108 crore (Rs 1.08 billion).
A total of 273 candidates are contesting in 17 constituencies from the state in the first phase and 156 in the remaining 11 constituencies in the second phase April 30.
"The study by NEW shows that there are 45 crorepatis in the race in the first phase polls in Karnataka," NEW convenor Trilochan Sastry said in Bangalore on Tuesday, after releasing a report on "criminal and financial background of candidates from Karnataka".
In the list of moneybags, both Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Congress come on top with 12 crorepatis each. The JD-S has eight crorepati candidates and six independent candidates are also worth over Rs 10 million.
NEW has also made a comparative study of assets of 13 candidates who contested the 2008 assembly elections and are now in the fray for the Lok Sabha polls.
"In less than a year's time, the declared assets of the 13 candidates have shown a rise of 39 percent," NEW coordinator of Karnataka Sridhar Pabbisetty said.
Prominent among them are two former chief ministers N Dharam Singh of Congress and H D Kumaraswamy of the JD-S, Mallikarjun Kharge, also of the Congress, and C P Yogeshwar who recently crossed over to the BJP from the Congress.
According to the study the assets of MPs, who are seeking re-election, has seen marked rise from 2004 to 2009.
Ananthakumar Hedge (Uttara Kannada):Rs 12 lakh (Rs 1.2 million) to Rs 64 lakh (Rs 6.4 million); H N Ananth Kumar (Bangalore South) Rs 70 lakh (Rs 7 million) to Rs 1.22 crore (Rs 12.2 million), K H Muniyappa (Kolar) Rs 62 lakh (Rs 6.2 million) to Rs 5.19 crore (Rs 51.9 million), Tejaswini Gowda (Bangalore Rural) Rs 17 lakh (Rs 1.7 million) to Rs 73 lakh (Rs 7.3 million), H T Sangliana (Bangalore Central) Rs 77 lakh (Rs 7.7 million) to
Rs.2 55 crore (Rs 25.5 million), Jigajinagi Ramesh Chandappa (Bijapur) Rs 55 lakh (Rs 5.5 million) to Rs 1.18 crore (Rs 11.8 million) and Angadi Suresh Channabasappa (Belgaum) Rs 4.71 crore (Rs 47.1 million) to Rs 16.43 crore (Rs 164.3 million).
Bahujan Samaj Party nominee from West Delhi is the richest candidate in the country with assets worth over Rs 600 crore (Rs 6 billion).
An exclusive SMS and helpline campaign was launched by NEW to help voters get detailed information on candidates' criminal records, assets, liabilities and education qualification. The information is availabe on the toll free number 1-800-110-440.