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Billionaires in poll fray

Political circles are buzzing, not with what candidates have declared, but with what probably has not been revealed.
PTI | By Jaideep Sarin (IANS), Chandigarh
UPDATED ON APR 28, 2004 08:55 PM IST

If their assets are anything to go by, candidates in the fray for the parliamentary elections in Punjab could form a billionaires' club!

The mandatory affidavits declaring assets and finances filed by candidates along with their nomination papers has brought to public notice the billionaires among top politicians in Punjab.

With cash, property and assets running into billions of rupees for most candidates, political circles here are buzzing — not with what they have declared, but with what probably has not been revealed.

Former chief minister and Akali Dal chief Parkash Singh Badal's son Sukhbir Badal, contesting from Faridkot, for instance, has declared funds and assets worth over Rs 200 million.

His bungalow in Chandigarh is pegged at Rs 25.2 million. However, its market value is estimated to be over Rs 40 million, according to property dealers.

His Orbit Resort, which was valued at Rs 4.5 billion by the state vigilance department during an investigation of corruption charges against him, is missing from the declaration.

Though he is seen driving around in swanky cars, as per the declaration he only owns a tractor worth Rs 400,000.

The list declared by Chief Minister Amarinder Singh's wife includes the Moti Bagh Palace, which is priced at Rs 350 million, and her bank deposits are placed at nearly Rs 2.7 million. She is seeking a re-election from Patiala.

Cricketer-turned-politician Navjot Singh Sidhu contesting from Amritsar on Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) ticket has declared assets and cash worth over Rs 61.6 million, apart from three luxury cars.

Federal minister SS Dhindsa, contesting from Sangrur on an Akali Dal-BJP ticket, has declared bank deposits worth over Rs 1.45 million. His grossly undervalued property is placed at Rs 7.2 million.

Arvind Khanna, contesting on the Congress ticket, has declared two Benz, Rs 2 million cash and jewellery worth Rs 1.1 million. He also owns a commercial plot in Mehrauli near New Delhi.

Former prime minister IK Gujral's son Naresh Gujral, contesting from Jalandhar on an Akali Dal-BJP ticket, has declared cash and assets worth Rs 230 million. He also owns two imported cars.

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