The Association for Democratic Reforms has analysed the affidavits of around 3,300 candidates so far, and tabulated their assets. Here’s a glimpse of the net assets of all candidates. The size of each box represents the assets of the candidates. The colour represents the party they belong to.
Nandan Nilekani’s wealth, at Rs 7,710 cr, is rather striking. His wealth is more than the net assets of the next two hundred candidates. Put another way, his assets are more than those of every other Congress candidate, BJP candidate, independent candidate, BSP candidate, JD(U) candidate and AAP candidate put together.
Since Nandan skews the picture considerably, let’s remove him and look at the rest.
We see several prominent figures emerge. Anil Kumar Sharma of JD(U), who is contesting in Jahanabad, is the second wealthiest with net assets of over Rs 740 cr. Naveen Jindal of Congress, contesting at Kurukshetra, is the third, with net assets of over Rs 300 cr. Malook Nagar of BSP, contesting at Bijnoor, is next with Rs 286 cr.
But let’s look at a typical candidate. The median wealth of a candidate is approximately Rs 27-28 lakhs. Anil Kumar of AAP, contesting at Jaipur Rural is a representative example, with net assets of Rs 28 lakhs. His wealth breaks up as follows.
If we move up a notch and start looking at the least wealthy of the 871 candidates with net assets over Rs 1 crore, Janardan Mishra of BJP contesting at Rewa is first on our list. His assets break up as follows:
The bulk of the wealth is from 39 acres of agricultural land, whose value is estimated at the conveniently round number of Rs 1 crore.
Between them, the candidates own around Rs 18,000 crores of assets. These are staggering figures. To put them in perspective, here’s a sense of how much money this is.
1 lakh is fairly small. You can hold a bundle worth Rs 1 lakh easily in your hand if it’s in 1,000 rupee notes. (These dimensions are based on the RBI specs for the Mahatma Gandhi series of notes. A Rs 1,000 note is 177mm x 73mm x 0.11mm). It weighs around 116 grams, and can be easily carried around.
Rs 10 lakhs is a little bulkier. It’s approximately the size of a stack of A4 sheets, or a large format book – about 14” x 14” x 0.4”. It weighs over a kg, but can still be comfortably carried around. In fact, Rs 10 lakhs can be carried in a person’s pockets without much discomfort.
If we place 10 such stacks one above another, we get a Rs 1 crore stack. This is 14” x 14” x 4”, about the size of a jewel box. It’s quite heavy, though – about 12 kg – which makes it a bit difficult to carry easily.
Rs 100 crores is about the size of a bed. At 6’ x 5’ x 1’8”, you can wrap all the currency inside a rather tall bed, and leave no one the wiser if you didn’t want it to be found. However, it does weigh over 1 tonne.
Rs 1,000 crores can fill half a room of dimensions 12’ x 10’ to a height of 4’2”. It weighs 11 tonnes. At this point, the volume of wealth is higher than any candidate other than Nandan Nilekani’s. (So even if the candidates had their entire property in cash, it would fit comfortably in their living rooms, or in their garage.)
Hopefully, some of this will be used responsibly during the current elections.