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 Money Maya

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PostSubject: Money Maya   Sun Jul 15, 2012 3:12 am

Money Maya

Indian politicians tend to make exponential additions to their personal wealth when in power


It is the first good cheer she has had since the debacle in the UP election,butamidthefamiliarself-congratulatory posturing by the BSPs spokespersons,itisimportanttoremember that the Supreme Courts dismissal of the disproportionate assets against Mayawati is purely a let-off on technical grounds.The courts judgement that the CBI erred in investigating Mayawatis assets from 1995 when it was only asked to look into the money trail for the Taj corridor case in 2003 is entirely about the intricacies of legal procedure and certainly not a general declaration of innocence.Not yet.
The only thing the Supreme Court looked at was the scope of the CBIs investigations and in any case the original TajcorridorcaseisstillongoingintheAllahabad High Court.Mayawati may have got a reprieve on a point of law for nowbutthelargerissuethatthiscasehas indirectlyfocusedattentiononisthepeculiar tendency of Indian politicians to somehow always succeed in making exponential additions to their personal wealth when in power.Irrespective of the fortunes of particular cases,this is the real issue.
Consider this: according to her own declaration at the time of her nomination to the Rajya Sabha earlier this year,Mayawati claimed that her total assets amounted up to Rs 111 crore.This is a 100 percent increase from five years ago when she had declared assets worth 52 crore.This itself was a huge increase from the 1 crore value attributed to her assets in 2003 by the CBI.Mayawati claims of course that her vast wealth come from contributions by party followers but the sheer scale of the money involved is surely enough to raise questions.What explains these huge spikes
The only other such parallel for huge increasesinpersonalwealthamongpoliticians is that of Jagan Reddy in Andhra Pradesh who earlier this year declared his assets at Rs 365 crore,up from just Rs 9.18 lakh in his name that his father had declaredin2004.Thereisobviouslyalot of love and affection floating around politicians when in power.
This is not about Mayawati alone.According to data compiled by the Association for Democratic Reforms from declarationsmadebyMLAsthemselves,theaverageassetsofUttarPradeshMLAs who re-contested elections in 2012 increased by over 200 percent when compared with 2007.Put simply,an average MLA in Lucknow was worth Rs.98 lakh in 2007,by 2012,he or she was worth more than Rs.3 crore.
The rise in incomes and assets is even more pronounced for BSP MLAs,while their party was in power.The average partyMLAinUttarPradeshwasworthRs 61 lakh in 2007.By 2012,the net-worth of a BSP MLA has gone up to Rs.2.3 crore (274 per cent hike).Is it not legitimate to ask how such accretions in personal wealth are possible
These are sobering figures and they offer two vital clues about our politics: first,thatincreasinglyonlyrichercandidates are getting party tickets (particularly in less significant parties like the Congress or RJD in Uttar Pradesh) and second,that when in power,politicians are making much more money,as demonstrate by the growth in their self-declared assets.Even if some of this is through genuine donations by wellwishers,there is an awful lot of money floating around in the system.
In investigating the Watergate scandal,the Washington Post's reporters Woodward and Bernstein were told by their legendary whistle-blowing insider 'Deep Throat' to just follow the money.Perhaps the time has come for us to follow that advice too.


NALIN MEHTA

IS AN AUTHOR AND SOCIAL HISTORIAN WHO WRITES ON POLITICS AND PUBLIC CULTURE
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