Sunday, September 12, 2010

The Hindu
Saturday, September 11 , 2010
A Cabinet of crorepatis
Vidya Subrahmaniam
Sandeep Joshi

Folklore may ascribe immeasurable wealth to India's Cabinet Ministers, but going by what they have officially filed – and now made public -- many of them fall way short of the anticipated riches.
Nonetheless, it is a Cabinet predominantly of crorepatis. The first among equals, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is not the richest member of his Cabinet, but even he reports a total asset value of Rs. 4.30 crore.
Surprisingly, Finance Minister and the presumed number two, Pranab Mukherjee, is some distance away from Dr. Singh with his total assets valued at around Rs.1 crore. This is apart from the assets held by Mr. Mukherjee's wife estimated at just under Rs. 1.5 crore. With a total asset value of around Rs.1 crore, External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna also falls behind the Prime Minister. Mr. Krishna's wife, Prema, owns assets worth another Rs.1 crore.
Union Minister for Agriculture Sharad Pawar's statement shows him in possession of assets worth Rs. 3.9 crore with his wife Pratibha holding assets worth another Rs. 2.16 crore. Union Minister for Human Resource Development Kapil Sibal holds assets worth around Rs. 14 crore while his wife owns property worth Rs. 7 crore.
Strikingly, many of the Ministers are poorer than their spouses, among them. Home Minister Chidambaram and Petroleum Minister Murli Deora. Mr. Chidambaram has movable (shares, bank deposits, cash, jewellery etc.) and immovable assets worth Rs. 5 crore while the assets of his wife, Nalini, add up to over Rs. 7 crore. At approximately Rs. 15 crore, Mr. Deora's assets are considerably lower than Hema Deora's pegged at around Rs. 31 crore.
Union Minister for Road Transport and Highways Kamal Nath holds movable and immovable assets worth around Rs. 3 crore.
His wife Alka's assets are valued at Rs. 1.5 core. Mr. Kamal Nath and his family have business interest in at least 22 firms.
The total assets of Union Minister for Commerce and Industries Anand Sharma are valued at Rs. 2.5 crore. He has not reported the assets held by his wife. Union Minister for Chemical and Fertilizers M.K. Alagiri has movable and immovable assets worth about Rs. 9 crore.
This is apart from the holdings of his wife and son worth about Rs. 6 crore.
One of the richest members of the Council of Ministers, Civil Aviation Minister Praful Patel holds immovable assets worth nearly Rs. 35 crore.
This is besides assets totalling Rs. 40 crore in the name of his wife Varsha. Minister of State for Commerce and Industry Jyotiraditya Scindia has assets estimated at over Rs. 30 crore which excludes inherited property worth crores from the royal Scindia family.
This exclusive club also has its poor members, among them Union Minister for Railways Mamata Banerjee (Rs. 6 lakh), Union Minister for Defence A.K. Antony (Rs. 1 lakh) and, surprisingly, Union Minister for Communications and IT A. Raja (Rs. 88 lakh).
The information was compiled from data obtained under the Right to Information Act by S.C. Agrawal and election affidavits filed by the Ministers.


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