Politicians who claim to have jumped into the fray to 'serve the people' have become wealthier manifold, some even upto 300 per cent, in the past five years, but many still do not possess a PAN card, said the National Election Watch (NEW) on Sunday.
"While the property of several candidates has doubled in the past five years, in many cases it has increased more than three hundred times as compared to the last general elections in 2004," said Rakesh Ranjan, who is convenor of the state unit of NEW - that monitors poll-related facts.
Ranjan told reporters here Sunday that of the 198 candidates contesting for 13 seats slated to go to polls April 23, 157 candidates are 'lakhpati' while 24 are 'crorepatis' but many do not have a PAN card of the Income Tax Department.
There are also seven such nominees who do not have a single rupee, if the affidavits submitted by them at the time of filing nominations are to be believed.
And this, Ranjan said, despite the fact that of these 198 candidates only three are illiterate. Of the remaining, eight are educated up to Class 5, and 42 candidates have completed their graduation and 45 are post-graduates and others have attained higher education. As many as 70 candidates also have liabilities ranging from Rs.70,000 to Rs.2.5 crore, he said.
Among the 'crorepati' nominees, Ranjan said, nine are from the Congress, four from the Samajwadi Party, three each from the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP). The Gondwana Gantantra Party (GGP) and the Republican Party of India (RPI) have one each while three other 'crorepati' candidates are contesting as Independents.
The Samajwadi Party candidate from Rewa constituency Pushpraj Singh is, however, the wealthiest of all - his total wealth amounts to over Rs.28.66 crore. Next comes Union Commerce and Industry Minister Kamal Nath of the Congress from Chhindwara, whose total assets have increased from Rs.96.63 lakh in 2004 to Rs.14.17 crore this time.