An analysis of the election filings of the newly elected members of Punjab Legislative Assembly revealed that Navjot Singh Sidhu, the ex-cricketer and television personality who joined the Indian National Congress just before the election, is the highest-earning member of the house.
The analysis by the Association for Democratic Reform also revealed that 8 out of 20 MLAs of the Aam Aadmi Party — literally common man’s party — have assets of Rs 1 cr or above.
Sidhu — who appears of the top-rated Kapil Sharma Show and has revealed not-so-subtle chief ministerial ambitions since the election — earned Rs 9.7 cr last year according to his income tax declaration, which was submitted as part of election requirements.
Though the highest earner, Siddhu ranked seventh in terms of wealth.
He had assets of Rs 45.9 cr, out of which Rs 39.0 cr was in the form of land and other ‘immovable’ assets, while Rs 6.9 cr was in the form of ‘movable’ assets such as vehicles, jewelry and cash.
The richest member of the Punjab legislative assembly was Rana Gurjit Singh, the business-man politican who is the Congress Party MLA for the constituency of Kapurthala.
Gurjit Singh had immovable assets of Rs 60.6 cr. However, what tilted the scales in his favor decisively was his ‘movable’ assets of Rs 109.3 cr, taking his total wealth to Rs 169.9 cr.
The second wealthiest person is the former chief minister Sukhbir Singh Badal of the Shiromani Akali Dal. Badal, who represents the Jalalabad constituency, had fixed assets of 58.7 cr and movable assets of 43.4 cr.
Punjab, being one of the richest states in India, also has one of the richest sets of people representing it.
Out of the 117 newly elected MLAs, 81% have assets of Rs 1 cr (10 mln) and above.
In fact, if it weren’t for the 12 non-crorepati MLAs of the Aam Aadmi Party, the percentage would have been higher, as seen in the outgoing house where 88% of the members were crorepatis.
All 18 MLAs of the Shiromani Akali Dal – BJP combine are crorepatis, while only 87% of the 77 Congress Party MLAs have assets of Rs 1 cr or more.
Being rich also seemed to improve the chances of getting elected.
While the average assets of a candidate in the just-concluded elections in Punjab was 3.49 cr, the average wealth of those who were elected in the election was 11.78 cr.
8 out of the 20 MLAs of the Aam Aadmi Party MLAs are crorepatis, including the third and the fourth richest people in the Assembly.
At No 3 was Sukhpal Singh, the AAP MLA from Bholath with a wealth of Rs 66.8 cr, followed by Aman Arora, the AAP MLA from Sunam, with Rs 49.2 cr.
Aman Arora, who joined the Aam Aadmi Party ahead of the election from the Indian National Congress, also held the distinction of being the second highest earning member of the house.
According to his income tax declaration, he and his dependents earned Rs 4.2 cr in the last financial year. Taken alone, Arora earned Rs 1.52 cr in the year.
According to the Aam Aadmi Party, Arora’s profession is that of a social worker.
Aam Aadmi Party’s crorepati MLAs were balanced by its six of its winning candidates who declared immovable assets of zero rupees.No other party had an MLA that declared zero rupees worth of immovable wealth.
Out of these six MLAs, five contested in seats reserved for scheduled caste candidates and three were women.
Out of the 117 MLAs in the assembly, 14% said they faced criminal cases. 9% were facing serious criminal cases such as murder, attempted murder and robbery.
Two of the three MLAs facing murder charges belong to the Congress Party. The remaining MLA belongs to the Lok Insaaf Party, which also held the distinction of having all its MLAs facing criminal cases against them.
Out of the 20 Aam Aadmi Party MLAs, 4 have criminal cases against them.
Only 1 MLA out of the 15 from the Shiromani Akali Dal party was facing such cases, while none of the three from the BJP had such cases against them.