The Times of India

MUMBAI: Politicians queued up to file their papers on Saturday, the last day of nominations for the assembly elections, as the broken alliances delayed party lists and triggered last-minute defections. Almost the entire state cabinet, including chief minister Prithviraj Chavan filed their nominations on the last day.

Candidates who filed their nominations across the state on Saturday were around 3,000, taking the total figure to over 6,000 now. In suburban Mumbai, there were 457 total nominations from 26 assembly pockets while the island city has 193 candidates in the fray from 10 constituencies.

Home minister R R Patil declared the lowest assets, of around Rs 1.3 crore. Among other prominent candidates who have filed their affidavits on the last day were Panvel's BJP candidate Prashant Thakur, whose assets were the highest declared on Saturday, at Rs 58 crore, followed by the BJP's Prakash Mehta at Rs 32 crore.

"Since it is important that voters get detailed information about the candidate to make an informed choice, it will help if the Election Commission mandated electronic data filing of assets. Then it would be very easy to timely present and analyse the data in more detail just like income tax," said Ajit Ranade of the Association of Democratic Reforms, which analyses public representatives by their performance. He said minute analysis of growth in bank deposits, shares, gold, real estate and agricultural investment was necessary at this point of time. Experts closely working with political parties said assets normally grow with the increasing realty and gold prices.

"If there is a sudden spurt in overall wealth, including in deposits and shares, disproportionate to known sources of income which has increased over and above the per capita national growth rate then such cases should be analyzed," said Vivek Gilane of Mumbai Votes, a not-for-profit group that analyses data filed by the public representatives. He said more politicians owning businesses was in fact a good sign as they were becoming partners in the nation's growth.

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