This Article is From Nov 19, 2014

In Poll-Bound Jharkhand, Nearly 25 Per Cent Candidates in First Phase are Crorepatis

Shashi Bhushan Mehta

Palamu, Jharkhand: Jharkhand may have recorded some of the worst parameters related to human development in the country, but a large number of candidates contesting in the first phase for the forthcoming assembly elections happen to be crorepatis, according to a report released by the Association for Democratic Reforms, a non-governmental organisation .

The average per capita income of Jharkhand is Rs 37,000, but of the 199 candidates vying for 13 seats in the first phase of the Jharkhand polls, 46 are crorepatis.

The richest candidate, based on the assets declared by them, is Madhu Sudhan Tripathy of the Jharkhand Vikas Morcha. He has declared assets worth Rs 23 crore. 

When we visited his constituency, Panki in Palamu district, we were told he was not present and would be unavailable over the next two or three days

Mr Tripathy 's closest rival is Shashi Bhushan Mehta, an independent candidate. Mr Mehta has  declared assets worth Rs 13 crore;  he owns a chain of schools and a fleet of buses and has contested the assembly elections twice earlier, but lost both times.

This time, he says, even his assets have become a poll issue.

"I have declared crores in income tax. Being rich is not a bad thing in politics at all. I want other people in my constituency to be richer than me," said Mr Mehta.

Then there are candidates like 31-year-old Uma Shankar Baiga, a social activist who says he has been fighting for tribal rights in the area for a decade.

Mr Baiga has declared assets worth only Rs 21,000, and while it may not be enough to take on the major candidates, he says he hasn't lost hope.

"I am not even campaigning too much, my supporters here will ensure my victory," said Mr Baiga.