The Times of India
Himanshi Dhawan
New Delhi

NEW DELHI: Uttar Pradesh may have the highest fiscal deficit amounting to Rs 20,513 (in 2008-2009) among the poll bound states but this financial ill-health does not extend to its cabinet. The state cabinet includes 37% crorepatis. Other ministers who are in the pink of health despite depleting state coffers include Punjab and Goa. 

About 83% of ministers in the Punjab cabinet are crorepatis while there are 67% crorepatis among Goa ministers. Incidentally, Punjab reported a fiscal deficit of Rs 6,690 crore in 2008-2009.Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR), a think tank working on electoral reforms, has analyzed affidavits submitted by sitting ministers and compared it to their respective state budgets. The average asset of a minister in the five states comes to about Rs 3.02 crore though Manipur has no crorepatis. 

Though Punjab has the highest number of crorepatis (83%), the average asset of a minister in Uttar Pradesh is more at Rs 6.85 crore. UP chief minister Mayawati leads by example, topping the charts with total declared assets of Rs 87.27 crore. UP is followed by Goa where the average asset of a minister is Rs 4.32 crore with UGDP's Atansio J Monserrate declaring Rs 15 crore. The average in Punjab is Rs 3.41 crore led by its CM Sukhbir Singh Badal who has amassed assets worth Rs 67 crore. 

ADR's founder member Prof Trilochan Sastry said, "There is a direct link between politics and the way finances are maintained. Analysis shows that all state governments are running on deficit with a large part of their budgets spent on salaries, pensions and interests leaving a very small amount for developmental work." 

The data also shows that 33 ministers in the five poll bound states of Manipur, Uttarakhand, UP, Punjab and Goa have pending criminal charges against them. Of the 33, 17 ministers have serious IPC charges against them. ADR's Jagdeep Chhokar said, "Our democracy is only surface deep. Voters don't have a choice because political parties are inherently undemocratic in selection of candidate, nor do they have transparency in financial details." 

The group has also analyzed the performance of MLAs and legislative assemblies to find that assemblies met for a very short time. Goa has the maximum average of sittings in a year (26) followed by Manipur (24) and UP (22).

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