Indian Express

Poll battle of heavyweights in Varanasi ‘light’ on assets

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. (Express Photo: Oinam Anand) There were candidates of 39 parties initially in the fray from this constituency. (Express Photo: Oinam Anand)

The Lok Sabha polls in this temple town may be high-profile with presence of BJP’s Narendra Modi and AAP’s Arvind Kejriwal but the fight is ‘asset-light’ when it comes to declared wealth of the candidates and it is an Independent who is the richest.

Independent Prabhat Kumar has declared assets worth Rs 3.35 crore — higher than any other candidate fighting from Varanasi Lok Sabha seat. However, this is lower than the average assets of about Rs 5 crore for all candidates in the fray across the country for Lok Sabha polls 2014. It also pales in comparison to quite a few candidates with assets running into hundreds or thousands of crores in various other Lok Sabha seats in Karnataka, Punjab, Bihar and Uttar Pradesh, among others.

A record number of 79 nominations were filed from Varanasi for the Lok Sabha elections, but only 42 candidates are now left in the fray after withdrawals and rejections. Those contesting include at least 10 crorepatis, 24 with assets worth Rs one lakh or more, while a handful have got just a few thousands of rupees.

The cumulative assets of all 42 candidates is Rs 25 crore.

Including those candidates whose nominations have been either rejected or withdrawn, there were at least 15 crorepatis and 35 lakhpatis, according to an analysis of all election affidavits filed for the Varanasi Lok Sabha seat.

This is based on the total assets declared by these candidates along with their spouses, wherever applicable. The assets of five candidates could not be ascertained as the same was not clear in their affidavits.

Polling in this seat, where Modi is being challenged by Kejriwal and Congress’ Ajay Rai, among others, will be held on May 12.

Among crorepatis, Independent Prabhat Kumar leads the charts with Rs 3.35 crore, followed by Lokpriya Samaj Party’s Bachhelal with Rs 3.16 crore. Samajwadi Party’s Kailash Nath Chaurasiya has declared assets worth Rs 2.42 crore, while that of Kejriwal stands at Rs 2.14 crore.

Others with assets worth Rs one crore or more include Independent Johnson Thomas (Rs 1.68 crore), Modi (Rs 1.66 crore), BSP’s Vijay Prakash Jaisawal (Rs 1.35 crore), Janatantra Party’s Ram Lakhan (Rs 1.21 crore), Agar Jan Party’s A K Aggarwal (Rs 1.15 crore) and Independent Ram Pyare Singh (Rs 1.02 crore).

The candidates with declared assets in lakhs include Congress’ Rai (Rs 72 lakh), TMC’s Indira Tiwari (Rs 6.3 lakh), CPM’s Hira Lal Yadav (Rs 7.45 lakh) and transgender Baseer Kinnar (Rs 27.8 lakh).

With assets in thousands of rupees only are three Independent candidates — Hemant Kumar Yadav, Manoj Kumar Chaube and Rajiv Kumar Mishra.

There were candidates of 39 parties initially in the fray from this constituency, while an equal number of Independents had also filed their nominations. These include individuals hailing from far away states of Karnataka and Kerala.

After all rejections and withdrawals, 13 candidates of continued…

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