Indian Express
Maneesh Chhibber
New Delhi

Amid the clamour of Team Anna for voting any candidate except the Congress nominee in the October 13 by-election to the Hisar Lok Sabha constituency, interesting statistics have surfaced regarding the candidates’ assets and criminal cases pending against them.

According to the data compiled by the Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) from the affidavits filed by the candidates, Kuldeep Bishnoi of the Haryana Janhit Congress (BL) is the richest candidate in the fray with a net worth of over Rs 48.85 crore. He also has a criminal case pending against him.

Ajay Singh Chautala of the Indian National Lok Dal, which is the main opposition party in Haryana Vidhan Sabha, has two criminal cases pending against him and is worth over Rs 40 crore.

The Congress nominee Jai Prakash is, however, worth Rs 3.16 crore and has no criminal case pending against him.

Since the 2009 Lok Sabha election, Bishnoi’s assets have grown from over Rs 17.30 crore to Rs 48.85 crore, a whopping increase of Rs 31.55 crore or 182 per cent. He was booked in March last year by the Chandigarh Police for, among other things, rioting.

As for Chautala, since the 2009 elections, his assets have grown from Rs 29.97 crore to Rs 40.16 crore, an increase of 10.19 crore or 34 per cent. Among other things, Chautala is in the dock after a case was filed against him and other members of his family by the CBI for corruption and possessing assets disproportionate to known sources of income. Sometime ago, a Delhi court framed charges against him for allegedly possessing wealth exceeding his known sources of income.

He is also an accused in another corruption case by the CBI pertaining to selection of JBT teachers by a previous Haryana government headed by his father and INLD chief Om Prakash Chautala. The CBI chargesheet drew inspiration from a chargesheet submitted to the Haryana Governor by the Congress in 2004, which was prepared by a team comprising present Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda, former finance minister Birender Singh, Palwal MLA Karan Singh Dalal and senior advocate Mohan Jain, who is now an additional solicitor general.

The assets of Congress candidate Jai Prakash have grown the most since the last Lok Sabha elections. While he was worth Rs 65.58 lakhs in 2009, his current worth is over Rs 3.16 crore, a jump of Rs 2.5 crore or 383 per cent.

Chautala is the most literate among the three main candidates, having a doctorate. While Bishnoi is a graduate, Jai Prakash has cleared Plus Two only.

Says Anil Bairwal, national coordinator, ADR: “It doesn’t matter which party you vote for. All candidates are the same. Basically, unless the larger issue of parties fielding only clean candidates is dealt with, the voter will continue to have limited choices.”

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