Hindustan Times
Aloke Tikku
New Delhi

You could call it a sign of the growing prosperity of India's political class. Or the Election Commission's attempt to keep up with the changing times.
The Election Commission has revised the format of affidavit to be filed by candidates fighting parliamentary and assembly elections and also wants them to declare if they own aircrafts, yachts or ships. Candidates were earlier only required to provide details of motor vehicles owned by them.

 Aspiring MPs and MLAs have to file the tell-all affidavits about their assets, liabilities, income and criminal past under a 2003 Supreme Court directive.

The change in the format — aimed at plugging loopholes and combining two sets of affidavits — came into force last month. It also requires candidates to paste their photograph and contact details — online and offline — on the affidavit to help people put a face to the name.

"It is a positive step," said Anil Bairwal at the Association for Democratic Reforms, an advocacy group that has analysed affidavits filed by candidates across India.

"That the EC has specifically asked this question reflects the perception... that some politicians own these assets but did not declare them," he said.

Bairwal doesn't expect the politicians to come clean on their flying machines. For one, they would — like their luxury cars — be in the name of their friends or some private firm.

The law ministry notification issued at the Election Commission's instance also requires candidates to declare liabilities that are under dispute. This change was made to ensure that candidates could not skip reporting the liabilities on grounds that they had contested the claim.

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