More than 40 percent of the 157 candidates for next week’s assembly elections in Arunachal Pradesh are millionaires, with the richest being a debutant school dropout worth more than Rs.2 billion (Rs.200 crore).
According to figures compiled by the National Election Watch (NEW) and Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) from affidavits filed by the contesting candidates, 63 candidates are millionaires. Congress party candidate for the Palin assembly constituency, Takam Tagar, is the richest with declared assets worth Rs.2.09 billion.
Tagar, 34, is the youngest candidate and is the brother of sitting Congress Lok Sabha MP Takam Sanjay.
Elections to the 60-member legislature are scheduled for October 13, although voting would be for just 57 seats with three candidates already declared elected unopposed.
Chief Minister Dorjee Khandu and two more ruling Congress members were declared elected unopposed - sitting MLA Tsewang Dhondup from Tawang constituency and debutant Jambey Tashi from the Lumla seat.
Khandu was elected unopposed from the Mukto constituency in Tawang district, bordering China, in the 1999 and 2004 assembly elections as well. The chief minister is the third richest candidate in the list with total declared assets worth Rs.220 million, while former Rajya MP and Congress party candidate from the Doimukh assembly seat is the second richest with assets worth a little more than Rs.240 million.
An interesting feature of the list of candidates is that all political parties have given tickets to the rich - a trend that is visible from the affidavits filed by the candidates along with their nomination papers. Of the 60 Congress candidates, 37 are millionaires. Among the other millionaire candidates, eight are from the Nationalist Congress Party, seven from the Trinamool Congress, six from the Bharatiya Janata Party, and one is an independent.
The Janata Dal-United with three candidates is the only party not to have a millionaire in the list. Money plays an important role in any election in Arunachal Pradesh with political parties known to host community feasting during the polls to woo voters.