Congress & SAD candidates have great personal wealth. AAP's have next to nothing
It's obvious that if someone has been an MLA for five years, one would expect his or her personal wealth to grow. In Punjab, for example, 75 of the 94 MLAs who are seeking re-election have seen a rise their assets.
Ironically, four of the five MLAs who have seen the biggest growth in assets belong to the Opposition Congress, with the other being an Akali Dal MLA. Among the top 15, there are eight Congressmen and seven Akalis.
Of the 94 MLAs who are recontesting, the average value of assets in 2012 was Rs 10.81 crore. This average has now climbed to Rs 13.79 crore, an increase of Rs 2.98 crore. This represents a 28% rise in average assets.
The data has been brought out by Punjab Election Watch (PEW) and the Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR), titled 'Analysis of Asset Comparison of Re-contesting MLAs'. The figures have been taken from the affidavits filed by the candidates along with their nomination papers.
The top five
Congress MLA Rana Gurjit Singh from Kapurthala is the richest candidate seeking re-election. His assets rose by 148% to be pegged at Rs 169.89 crore. His annual income, as per his last income tax return, is Rs 2.98 crore.
In second place is Sunder Sham Arora of Hoshiarpur, with an asset value of Rs 44.60 crore, which is a rise of 105% from 2012.
Surinder Kumar Dawar of the Congress, who is contesting the Ludhiana (Central) seat, stands third, with his assets valued at Rs 28.66 crore, a jump of 71% from the last Assembly polls.
In fourth place is Akali Dal leader Bikram Singh Majithia, who is contesting from Majitha. His assets are valued at Rs 25.22 crore, registering a growth of 125% from 2012.
Former Congress Legislative Party leader Sunil Jakhar, who is contesting from Abohar, is in fifth place, with assets valued at Rs 24.05 crore, after witnessing a whopping 252% growth from 2012.
These statistics have led many observers to question whether Congress MLAs were playing the role of the Opposition effectively, or giving more importance to personal enterprise.
Among the key politicians of the state, Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) president Sukhbir Badal has his assets valued at Rs 102.07 crore, after witnessing a growth of 12% from 2012. He is contesting from Jalalabad.
His father and Akali Dal patriarch Parkash Singh Badal's assets are pegged at Rs 14.49 crore, after registering an increase of 115% in the last five years. He is contesting from Lambi.
State Congress president Captain Amarinder Singh has his assets pegged at Rs 48.31 crore, after registering a hike of 6% from 2012. He is the candidate from Patiala (Urban) and Lambi.
In terms of party-wise categorisation, the Akali Dal's 41 MLAs seeking re-election have seen their average assets rise to Rs 11.38 crore from Rs 9.70 crore in 2012, thus witnessing an increase of 17.26%.
But the 41 Congress MLAs seeking re-election have seen their average assets touch a figure of Rs 18.88 crore, up from Rs 13.92 crore, thus registering a rise of 35.64%.
The average assets of the nine BJP MLAs seeking re-election grew by just 0.44% - from Rs 2.72 crore in 2012 to Rs 2.73 crore.
The maximum increase in terms of percentage was that of two candidates of the Lok Insaf Party, whose average assets grew from Rs 7.04 crore in 2012 to Rs 10.14 crore, at a rate of 43.91%.
Bhagwant Mann is a sitting Lok Sabha MP belonging to the Aam Aadmi Party who is contesting from Jalalabad, while Navjot Singh Sidhu resigned from the BJP and as a Rajya Sabha MP last year, and is now fighting for the Amritsar (East) seat for the Congress.
In Sidhu's case, his last affidavit comes from 2009, when he contested and won the Lok Sabha elections from Amritsar. Since then, his assets have shown a growth of 217% from Rs 14.50 crore to Rs 45.90 crore.
Mann's case, however, is very interesting, as his assets have actually declined by 54% from Rs 4.30 crore in 2014 to Rs 1.99 crore.
Some AAP candidates have next to nothing
The AAP did not exist when the last Assembly elections took place. This time around, it has fielded some young candidates, who possess very little personal wealth.
AAP's Bathinda (Rural) candidate, 27-year-old Rupinder Kaur, has the least personal wealth of any candidate in the election. The PhD student has assets worth Rs 1.75 lakh.
Bhadaur (reserved) candidate Parimal Singh has assets worth Rs 3.02 lakh. Singh, who was sacked as a power linesman following an agitation, is being funded by some NRIs.
Baljinder Kaur, a former English lecturer, is in fray on the Talwandi Sabo seat, with assets worth Rs 3.66 lakh.
Jaswinder Singh Jahangir, who is contesting from the border constituency of Attari, is a former primary teacher with assets amounting to Rs 12.74 lakh.
Kartarpur (reserved) AAP candidate Chander Grewal is a former sanitary inspector, sarpanch and kirtan singer, who has assets to the tune of Rs 13.03 lakh.
Palwinder Kaur, sarpanch of Haryau Khurd village, is contesting the Shutrana (reserved) seat, with assets worth Rs 36.86 lakh. She reportedly lost her husband to dengue five days after she was fielded by AAP.
Similarly, kirtan singer Saroop Singh Kadiana is the AAP candidate on the Phillaur (reserved) seat, with assets worth Rs 40.23 lakh, of which his house is worth Rs 30 lakh.
Edited by Shreyas Sharma