By Ayaskant Das
New Delhi, Sep 25 (IANS) The average wealth of an MLA in India has swollen more than ten times from USD 1.3 million in the year 2015 to a massive Rs 13.6 million in 2018, founder of the Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR), Prof Jagdeep Chhokar said in New Delhi on Wednesday.
Professor Chhokar said that for an Indian MP, the average wealth in the year 2004 had stood at USD 280,639. However, the figure has grown to USD 2.9 million in the year 2019. Chhokar was replying to a query on the wealth of MPs and MLAs in India at a time when the country is going through a tough economic situation at a function held to commemorate 20 years of ADR, a non-governmental organisation that works in the field of electoral and political reforms in the country.
The function was held at the Foreign Correspondents Club of South Asia. As per ADR figures, the total wealth of all MPs in India stood at USD 144 million in the year 2004 and has now increased to USD 1.57 billion. Similarly, the combined wealth of all MLAs in the country that stood at USD 164.6 million in the year 2015 has now increased to USD 2.13 billion.
Replying to a query by IANS, Professor Chhokar said the organisation had been formed with the combined effort of 11 volunteers in the year 1999.
“These included eight IIM professors, two alumni of the IIM and one professor of the National Institute of Design. It was formed after we filed a PIL seeking implementation of the 170th Law Commission Report,” said Chhokar.
Elaborating on the journey of the ADR over the past 20 years, Professor Chhokar said that his PIL demanding implementation of a 2014 order of the Central Information Commission that political parties are public authorities and hence need to be covered under the ambit of RTI is still pending in the Supreme Court.
“The government of India has submitted a counter-affidavit to the PIL asserting that political parties should not be brought under the RTI ambit. Our case on electoral bonds is also pending in the Supreme Court,” he said.
The mandate upon candidates of all political parties to submit separate affidavits pertaining to their wealth and criminal background at the time of filing nominations for elections, considered to be one of the landmark steps in the electoral history of India, has been made possible largely due to the efforts of ADR.
“If we look at the countries bordering India, democracy is nowhere as successful as in our country. India is the only nation, from amongst all countries that got freedom from colonial rule in the 40s and 50s, to have an uninterrupted run of democracy. Also, for the past 20 years ADR has continued to exist, despite vehemently criticising all political parties, which is a tribute to the democratic traditions of India,” said Chhokar.
(Ayaskant Das can be contacted at email@example.com)