Times of India

Of the 788 candidates contesting 89 seats in the first phase of Gujarat Assembly polls, 211 are 'crorepatis', with the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) accounting for 79 such nominees, the Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) said in a report on Thursday. With this, 27% of the total number of candidates in the fray have assets worth more than Rs 1 crore.

The BJP, which is contesting all 89 seats, have 79 candidates or 89% of its nominees with assets above Rs 1 crore, followed by the opposition Congress with 65 candidates at 73% and the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) with 33 candidates at 38%. The AAP is fighting 88 seats.

While the average assets per candidate contesting in the first phase of the election is Rs 2.88 crore, Ramesh Tilala, who is contesting from the Rajkot South Assembly constituency as a BJP candidate is the richest one with the total declared assets of Rs 175 crore, the ADR report said.

Indranil Rajguru, a Congress candidate from the Rajkot East seat, follows Tilala with Rs 162 crore assets. Jawahar Chavda, a BJP candidate from Manavadar seat, has assets worth Rs 130 crore, it said.

An independent candidate named Bhupendra Patoliya from Rajkot West Assembly seat has declared zero assets in his affidavit, the report stated.

Among the 211 candidates, Rivaba Jadeja, the wife of cricketer Ravindra Jadeja who is contesting from Jamnagar North seat as a BJP candidate, has declared the combined income of Rs 18 crore for 2021-22 for herself, her spouse and dependent. Her own income stood at Rs 6 lakh, her affidavit showed. She has declared assets worth Rs 97 crore, it said.

Of the total candidates in fray, 73 have declared assets worth above Rs 5 crore, 77 others between Rs 2 crore and Rs 5 crore, 125 candidates between Rs 50 lakh and Rs 2 crore, 170 between Rs 10 lakh and Rs 50 lakh, and 343 with less than Rs 10 lakh, the ADR said in the report.

Party-wise, average assets is Rs 13.40 crore for the BJP, Rs 8.38 crore for the Congress, and Rs 1.99 crore for the AAP.

The 14 candidates of the Bharatiya Tribal Party (BTP) have declared average assets worth Rs 23.39 lakh.

In the first phase of elections in the 2017 Gujarat Assembly elections, a total of 198 or 21 per cent of 923 candidates were "crorepatis", the report said.

Among the candidates with lowest assets is Rakesh Gamit, a Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) candidate from Vyara which is a Scheduled Tribe (ST) reserved seat. He has declared assets worth Rs 1,000, while Jayaben Boricha from Bhavnagar West has declared assets worth Rs 3,000, and Samir Shaikh from Surat East Rs 6,500 assets, it said. Rajguru, who has the second highest assets, is also the one with the highest liabilities at Rs 76 crore, followed by one Bachubhai Artheriiya with Rs 97 crore assets and Rs 30 crore liabilities.

Rajguru, who has the second highest assets, is also the one with the highest liabilities at Rs 76 crore, followed by one Bachubhai Artheriiya with Rs 97 crore assets and Rs 30 crore liabilities. 

BJP's Pabubha Manek from Dwarka seat generated the second highest income in 2021-22 at over Rs 5 crore through his shipping business, etc. Next comes BJP's Kanu Desai, who is contesting from Pardi, with an income of over Rs 2 crore.

"Around 65% candidates fall in the category of assets worth Rs 10 lakh to Rs 50 lakh. As compared to last year, the number of crorepati candidates also keep increasing...What is worth noting is that there is no crorepati candidate in BTP, unlike last time when it had 67% crorepati candidates," said ADR's head Anil Verma.

As far as the education details of the candidates are concerned, there are 492, or 62& candidates, who have studied between Class 5 and 12, while 185 are graduates and above, and 21 are diploma holders. As many as 57 candidates are literate, while 37 others are illiterate.

"Compared to other states, the number of illiterates is very high in Gujarat," Verma said.

As many as 277 or 35% candidates are in the 25 to 40 age group, while 431 or 55% are aged between 41 and 60 years. Another 79 candidates are in the age group of 61 to 80 and one is above 80 years of age, the ADR report stated.

There are 719 men and 69 women candidates contesting in the first phase of election, it said.

Elections for 182 seats of the Gujarat Legislative Assembly will be held in two phases - on December 1 for 89 seats and December 5 for 93 seats, while the counting of votes will be taken up on December 8.

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