The number of India’s super-rich aspiring to enter the Lok Sabha has shown a healthy increase. For the ongoing Lok Sabha elections, there are 48 candidates with assets of about Rs 100 crore each, compared with 14 during the 2009 elections, data analysed by civil society group Association for Democratic Reforms show.
Predictably, Infosys co-founder Nandan Nilekani tops the list, with Rs 7,710 crore of declared assets. The candidate ranked second, 56-year-old Shamali Das, an independent from two constituencies in West Bengal (Kolkata Dakshin and Jadavpur), has trumped many famous names. According to her affidavit filed with the Election Commission, Das, a standard VIII-pass widow, has assets worth Rs 2,060 crore.
When contacted, Das said she was the sole inheritor of the Rani Rashmoni estate. She said she was heir to the Rani, said to have owned half of Kolkata. Das’s affidavit mentions she has only Rs 20,000 in cash and Rs 40,000 worth of jewellery, besides a “large chunk of immovable properties such as agricultural and non-agricultural land and commercial and residential buildings”.
“I want to fight for the land rights of the people,” she says.
Ranked third in the list of richest candidates is Anil Kumar Sharma, promoter of Delhi-based real estate developer Amrapali Group, which gained visibility after cricketer Mahendra Singh Dhoni promoted the brand. Sharma, who is contesting on a Janata Dal (United) ticket from Jahanabad, has declared assets worth Rs 849 crore. He says he was attracted to politics because of Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar’s vision to develop the state. “It all depends on a businessman’s mentality. I could just do corporate social responsibility and feel that enough is done,” he says. “My business has reached a benchmark and it will keep growing. So, it should not stop me from contributing to the society through my own means,” he says.
The next four in the list are industrialists based in Andhra Pradesh. While Jayadev Galla (Rs 683 crore) of Amar Raja Group is ranked fourth, Ayodhya Rami Reddy Alla (Rs 654 crore) of Ramky Infrastrucuture is ranked fifth and Nama Nageswara Rao (Rs 338 crore) of Madhucon Group ranks seventh. While Galla and Rao are candidates of the Telugu Desam Party, Reddy Alla is from the YSR Congress.
Naveen Jindal, chairman of Jindal Steel and Power, is ranked eighth, with declared assets of Rs 308 crore.
Moni Kumar Subba, a controversial lottery baron facing murder and rape cases and contesting as an independent candidate from Tezpur in Assam, is ninth on the list. He has declared assets worth Rs 306 crore. Rounding off the top 10 list is Malook Nagar, a dairy business owner from Uttar Pradesh, with assets worth Rs 289 crore. Nagar is contesting from Bijnor, on a Bahujan Samaj Party ticket.