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Rajasthan's Richest Candidate, Textile Magnate, Is Vying For Ajmer's Vote

The industrialist will be facing off against Bhagirath Chaudhary, an old BJP hand, when Ajmer goes to the polls on April 29.

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Riju Jhunjhunwala is the richest candidate in Rajasthan, with assets pegged at Rs 80 crore.


Ajmer: 

Forty-year-old Riju Jhunjhunwala is Rajasthan's richest candidate with assets pegged at Rs 80 crore, but he has now put every luxury aside for the heat and dust raised on the election trail. Known better as the owner of Mayur Suitings, he is contesting from the Ajmer Lok Sabha constituency.

But Mr Jhunjhunwala has his fingers in more than one pot. With business interests extending over the fields of textiles, power and information technology, he has accumulated assets worth Rs 49.5 crore in property, Rs 2 crore in jewellery, and Rs 16 lakh in paintings and artifacts. In fact, he is even richer than Rajsamand BJP candidate Diya Kumari, a former royal with assets amounting to over Rs 16 crore.

The industrialist says he does not regret the decision to join politics because it is a career path he always wanted to take. But how does he feel about being the richest candidate in Rajasthan?

"I honestly declared my assets before the election, but that is only one aspect of my life. I am here as just another Congress party worker," he says, sitting cross-legged on a charpoy at a roadside dhaba where his team has halted for a cup of tea.

Mr Jhunjhunwala says he wants to set up industrial units in Ajmer. "There is so much scope here... raw material, granite, textile, ceramics. As we already have factories in Banswara and Bhilwara near Ajmer, we can easily bring them here and provide the local population with jobs," he explains.

Although Ajmer has traditionally been the Lok Sabha constituency of Deputy Chief Minister Sachin Pilot, he is not fighting the polls this time. He, however, has been in Ajmer to campaign for Mr Jhunjunwala on four occasions since he filed his nominations.

"I have signed the bail bond for Riju," Mr Pilot tells party workers jokingly. "If you get him elected, he will work painstakingly in Ajmer for the next five years."

The industrialist will be facing off against Bhagirath Chaudhary, an old BJP hand, when Ajmer goes to the polls on April 29. He had fought three polls from Kishangarh on a BJP ticket, but was denied candidature in the last election allegedly due to factionalism.

Mr Chaudhary terms the Ajmer election as a contest between Dhan Bal versus Jan Bal, translating to money power versus people power, and seems quite sure of what the people will opt for. However, the BJP candidate - with assets amounting to Rs 7.44 crore - isn't exactly poor either.

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