Feminists who deplore the fact that there are hardly enough women on cash-rich lists brought out by business magazines may seek comfort in Mrs Mahto, Mrs Munda and Mrs Singh.
Former chief minister Arjun Munda’s wife Meera must envy Neha. Before you ask Neha who, she is the better half of Ajsu chief Sudesh Mahto, once a deputy of Munda. According to sworn affidavits in nomination papers where income and assets of candidates, their spouses and dependants must be declared, Neha is way richer than Meera. And, the wives are way richer than their husbands, a fact that may inspire many voters to read between the lines.
Mahto and Munda, who are contesting from Silli and Kharsawan (ST) seats, are both favourites in the respective constituencies. They are also ally partners, after the BJP-Ajsu pact, and riding high on the Narendra Modi wave.
Getting down to bare figures. Meera has cash in hand worth Rs 2.65 lakh, more than Munda’s Rs 1.3 lakh. But, Neha flaunts cash in hand of Rs 7.5 lakh, more than husband Mahto with Rs 6.1 lakh.
Neha has Rs 5.81 crore in movable assets, while her husband has Rs 2.99 crore. Meera has Rs 1.64 crore in moveable assets, more than Munda’s affidavit that shows a gross total of Rs 55.77 lakh.
If we are to take immovable property into account, Munda has Rs 28.5 lakh, Meera Rs 50 lakh; while Mahto has Rs 91 lakh and Neha has, well, zilch.
Comparison of total income shown in I-T returns for 2013-14 suggests Mahto’s earning as over Rs 42 lakh. Neha is again much ahead of her husband with total income of Rs 1.45 crore.
Not to be outdone, in the Munda household, things are virtually the same. Meera swore to an income of Rs 13.42 lakh and Munda Rs 8.87 lakh.
What do they do? In the affidavit, Munda has stated his profession as social work and politics. For wife Meera, it is social work. Mahto has stated his profession as “MLA Silli and business”. Neha has simply written “business”.
Professor Jagdeep Chhokar, a founder member of election watchdogs National Election Watch and Association of Democratic Reforms, refused to comment on wives being richer than their political husbands. He only added: “I do not know what business they do. But it is Election Commission’s responsibility to stop misuse of money power in polls.”
At present, the maximum expenditure limit for a candidate in Assembly elections is Rs 28 lakh.
Taking a break from allies, if we go to Bokaro, Rajendra Prasad Singh, Bermo MLA, and No. 2 in Hemant Soren’s cabinet with key portfolios of finance, health and energy, is also poorer than his wife Rani.
Singh has Rs 3.4 crore in immovable property while Rani has Rs 6.08 crore according to their affidavits. And, in the case of moveable property, if Singh has Rs 67 lakh, Rani has Rs 1.46 crore.
The main difference, apart from political ideology, seems to be that the Singhs repose more trust on immovable property.
-The Telegraph, Calcutta