New Delhi: As many as 98 of the 250 members of the Rajya Sabha own assets worth Rs1 crore or more, while two members have no assets at all, says a study based on the members’ self-sworn affidavits obtained through the Right to Information Act (RTI).
Nearly a sixth of the members of the Upper House of Parliament also have criminal cases pending against them, says the study released by the Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) and National Election Watch (NEW), an umbrella organization of some 1,200 civil society groups from around the world.
Graphic: Paras Jain/Mint
Industrialist and independent Rajya Sabha member Rahul Bajaj has declared that he has total assets of more than Rs300 crore—the highest among all members, says the study.
He is closely followed by Janata Dal (Secular) member M.A.M. Ramaswamy and T. Subbarami Reddy of the Congress, who have declared assets of more than Rs278 crore and Rs272 crore, respectively.
Samajwadi Party’s (SP) Jaya Bachchan and expelled leader Amar Singh of the same party have assets of Rs215 crore and Rs79 crore, respectively, the study says.
The study covered 219 affidavits received through RTI. Of these, the ruling Congress has the highest number of 33 members who own assets worth more than Rs1 crore, the main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has 21 and the SP has seven.
Twelve members of the Rajya Sabha are nominated and do not have to file their asset details. There are some vacancies in the House as well.
“With the below poverty line (BPL) list escalating and farmers in debt, the quality of representation in the Upper House is now debatable after these findings,” said Jagdeep Chhokar, a former director of the Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad, and a founder-member of ADR and NEW.
D. Raja of the Communist Party of India and Saman Pathak of the Communist Party of India (Marxist), or CPM, declared zero assets. Another CPM member, Brinda Karat, declared assets worth Rs1.74 lakh, while the Revolutionary Socialist Party’s Abani Roy said he had assets worth only Rs72,000, according to the study.
“My education and (the) goodwill shown towards me by the people are my assets,” Raja said, reacting to the study. “I have nothing more to say.”
The study also shows 37 Rajya Sabha members have criminal cases pending against them. Seven are members of the Congress, six are from the BJP and four each are from the Bahujan Samaj Party and the Shiv Sena. The affidavits giving details of criminal cases were collected by ADR and NEW from different state assembly secretariats, submitted at the time of the members’ election to the Rajya Sabha.