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Hazaarpatis, please elect crorepatis to power. Average assets of 199 contestants in the first phase of Assembly polls on November 25 are Rs 1.02 crore while the mean per capita income of Jharkhand is Rs 37,000.

Anosh Ekka (left) and Madhu Koda

Of the 199 vying for 13 seats on Day One, 46 are crorepatis, says an analysis of Association for Democratic Reforms and Jharkhand Election Watch.

Madhu Sudan Tripathy, JVM candidate from rebel-hit Panki in Palamau, is the richest with movable and immovable assets of over Rs 23 crore. His rival from Panki, Independent aspirant Kushwaha Shashi Bhushan Mehta is second at over Rs 13 crore.

Controversial former transport and rural development minister during Madhu Koda's regime in 2006-2008, Anosh Ekka has movable assets of about Rs 64.87 lakh and his wife Menon Rs 69.15 lakh.

Movable assets are qualified as bank balance, cash in possession, insurance, motor vehicles and ornaments.

Both Anosh and Menon, are courting voters from reserved ST seats Kolebira and Simdega under Jharkhand Party. Many voters still struggle for two square meals a day.

Candidates of Jai Bharat Samanta party, the Koda couple is doubtless richer.

While Madhu Koda, contesting from Majhgaon (ST), has Rs 1.10 crore of moveable assets, his wife Geeta, sitting MLA of Jagannathpur, fighting from Jagannathpur, has movable assets of Rs 92 lakh.

Retired professor Jagdeep Chhokar of IIM-Ahmedabad, a founder member of National Election Watch and Association for Democratic Reforms, outfits that act as watchdogs for Indian democracy, said: "Many candidates are facing probes. It is good that during nominations, candidates are supposed to declare property of self, spouse and dependent. Now, it is the turn of Election Commission to see there is no misuse of money and voters to elect the right candidates."

Among major parties, 11 JVM candidates are worth an average Rs 3.47 crore, the figure inflated by Tripathy. The 12 BJP candidates in the first phase are worth Rs 1.97 crore on an average while their 12 JMM counterparts are worth Rs 99.33 lakh. The 12 candidates of BSP, Mayawati's party, have average assets worth Rs 72.14 lakh.

There are few candidates with poor backgrounds in first phase. They include Independent Umashankar Baiga from rebel turf Manika in Latehar who has declared assets of only Rs 21,276. Ras Bihari Prasad Gupta, a Jai Bharat Samanta Party candidate from Daltonganj, has assets worth Rs 1.31 lakh.

The voters' verdict will prove if politics is still a rich man's career.

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