The Times Of India
Manosh Das

SHILLONG: It's astounding that the people of poor and remote Meghalaya, which depends on the Centre for 90% of its funds, have elected 36 'crorepatis' to its 60-member assembly in the recent election, going by the findings of Meghalaya Election Watch.

"Out of these 60 MLAs, 36 (or 60 %) are crorepatis. In the 2008 assembly election, 15 of the 60 MLAs analyzed (or 25%) were crorepatis," the report said, adding that the average assets per MLA this time around are Rs 7.77 crore. In 2008, the average assets per MLA wereRs 1.12 crore.

As per the findings, the top three MLAs with highest declared assets in decreasing order are Ngaitlang Dhar of Congress from Umroi (ST) constituency, who has declared assets worth a whopping Rs235.64 crore, followed by Metbah Lyngdohof United Democratic Party from Mairang (ST) constituency with Rs 37.29 crore and Comingone Ymbonof Congress from Raliang (ST) constituency with assets worth Rs 25.48 crore.

Interestingly, only one MLA, Abu Taher Mondalof Congress, who returned to power from Phulbari constituency, declared his annual income. "Almost all other MLAs have claimed to be exempted from paying Income Tax under Section 10(26) of the Income Tax Act," the report read. It added that the average asset growth for the 23 re-elected MLAs, between 2008 and 2013, is Rs 3.76 crore. The average growth in the assets of these MLAs is an unprecedented 250%.

The assets of chief minister Mukul Sangma (Congress), who was re-elected from Ampati (ST) constituency, have risen by Rs 11.07 crore, from Rs 3.43 crore in 2008 to Rs 14.50 crore in 2013, the report specified.

The highest and most dramatic increase (39,439 per cent) in assets - from Rs 75,074 in 2008 to Rs 2.96 crore in 2013 - was declared by Sniawbhalang Dhar of Congress from Nartiang (ST) constituency.

Mazel Ampareen Lyngdoh of Congress from East Shillong (ST) constituency declared an increase of 9,196 per cent in her assets, which rose from Rs 23,518 in 2008 to Rs 21.86 lakh in 2013.

Nihim D Shira of National People's Party from Songsak (ST) constituency falls in the third place with a 3,535 per cent increase in assets, from Rs 2.72 lakh in 2008 to Rs 99.17 lakh in 2013.

The report also says that among the candidates with assets of Rs 5 crore and above, 13 have got elected out of 30 who contested, which means that if a candidate has Rs 5 crore and more, the chances of his winning the election was 43 per cent. But chances of winning drops to only four per cent if a candidate has assets less than Rs 25 lakh, as only five candidates out of 116 with assets less than Rs 25 lakh managed to win the election.

Curiously, according to the report, despite the overwhelming number of 'crorepati' MLAs in the Meghalaya assembly, in 16 constituencies, 'lakhpati' candidates emerged as winners, defeating higher asset owning 'crorepati' candidates in their respective constituencies.

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