Candidates contesting the Lok Sabha elections seem wary of disclosing details related to their bank accounts in their affidavits submitted to the Election Commission.
While some have missed out on disclosing these details initially in their affidavits, others have opened a bank account only when they filed their nominations. There are still some contestants who hold lakhs of rupees in cash and in gold investments but have no balance in their bank account or as fixed deposits.
If financial inclusion is the goal for Reserve Bank of India and the Securities and Exchange Board of India, then probably it should begin with the candidates standing for elections to Parliament.
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A look into over 500 affidavits filed by candidates of prominent political parties with the Election Commission revealed that atleast 10 candidates have either mentioned ‘not applicable’ or ‘Nil’ against the head where bank account details were to be given.
When The Indian Express contacted these candidates, several of them said that they do have a bank account and the ‘Nil’ entry could have been an oversight.
The Congress candidate from Gandhinagar, Kirtibhai Ishwarbhai Patel, who is contesting against Lal Krishna Advani of BJP, has stated ‘N.A.’ against the column for bank account/deposit. Of the total movable assets of Rs 42.32 lakh as submitted in his affidavit the cash amounts to Rs 1 lakh and jewellery is worth Rs 41.18 lakh. When contacted, Patel said, “I have a bank account with SBI.” When told that his affidavit does mention it, he said, “I will look into it.”
The BJP candidate from Koppal in Karnataka Karadi Sanganna Amarappa too has stated ‘Nil’ against the column for bank account.
When this newspaper checked with him and his party officials in Karnataka, the response was, “He has a bank account but has no money in it.” With total movable assets amounting to Rs 22.87 lakh, this BJP candidate has cash amounting to Rs 2 lakh and jewellery worth Rs 3 lakh. The rest are valuations of his two cars, however he does not keep any money in his bank account.
Congress candidate from the lone seat in Nagaland, KV Pusa too seem to have missed out on disclosing that he has a bank account and has deposits in it. While in the form he has filled ‘N.A.’, when called, he said, “It is wrong and seems there is a mistake as I do have a bank account with UCO Bank.” However even while calculating the aggregate, Pusa seems to have ignored the money lying in his bank account and the total of Rs 35 lakh is only the sum of Rs 15 lakh in cash and the valuation of his two cars: a BMW and a Mahindra Scorpio.
There are also some cases where the contestant did not have a bank account till about two months ago but they opened one as part of the requirement of the nomination process. CPI (M) candidate from Tezpur in Assam, Khem Raj Chetry, is one such case as he did not have a bank account till March 2014. When contacted he told, “I did not have a bank account earlier but have got one opened after filing my candidature.”
The affidavit of Janta Dal (Secular) candidate from Bidar in Karnataka, Bandeppa Khashempur, has mentioned total movable assets of Rs 76.2 lakh, Rs 5.4 lakh in cash, has cars such as Honda City and Hyundai Sonata and has investments worth Rs 34 lakh in companies. But the bank details column shows ‘Nil’.
There are other cases where it appears there has been an error of omission by the candidates and a few of them even said that the returning officer had asked them about the details of their bank accounts which they later furnished.
While having a bank account and operating it is a major issue, a closer look into affidavits of 65 prominent candidates showed that only a handful of them have investments in mutual funds and listed securities. Most have parked funds in gold, unlisted firms and even lending.