Bangalore : Of the 28 Congress candidates in the Lok Sabha election in Karnataka, 27 are billionaires, led by its star nominee Nandan Nilekani (Bangalore South).
"Till date, Nilekani (co-founder of IT bellwether Infosys Ltd), is the richest candidate in the country with assets worth Rs.7,710 crore (Rs.77 billion). The average assets of a Congress candidate in the state is Rs.294 crore," Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) state coordinator Trilochan Sastry told IANS here.
Karnataka has 28 parliamentary constituencies, including five reserved for Dalits and two for tribals.
Set up by a group of professors from the state-run Indian Institute of Management (IIM) Ahmedabad in 1999, ADR has been instrumental in making the Supreme Court direct candidates to disclose their criminal, financial and education background while filing their nominations.
Among the richest candidates in the state, Nilekani is followed by R. Prabhakara Reddy of Janata Dal-Secular (JD-S) from Bangalore Rural who declared assets worth Rs.224 crore, former Infosys director and Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) candidate from Bangalore Central V. Balakrishnan, whose total assets are Rs.189 crore.
"Of the 435 candidates in fray, 118 (27 percent) are billionaires, including 26 from Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), 21 from JD-S and 12 from AAP. Average assets of JD-S candidates are Rs.30.4 crore, BJP candidates Rs.14.7 crore and AAP Rs.8.5 crore," Sastry said.
Among major parties, the average assets of 28 Congress candidates is Rs.293.75 crore, that of 25 JD-S candidates is Rs.30.40 crore, that of 28 BJP candidates is Rs.14.65 crore and that of 28 AAP candidates is Rs.8.49 crore.
Of the total candidates, 177 have declared their income tax details. Nilekani has also the highest income of Rs.168 crore per annum, followed by another Congress candidate A. Manju (Rs.14 crore per annum), Reddy of JD-S (Rs.3.9 crore per annum).
Manju is contesting from Hassan, where former prime minister and JD-S supremo H.D. Deve Gowda is a contestant for a record sixth time.
Total income includes assets of self, spouse and dependents.
"But 255 candidates, including 10 with assets over Rs.1 crore, did not declare income tax details in their nomination papers," Sastry said.
Among the candidates, 215 have declared liabilities, with 35 of them having above Rs.1 crore outstanding.
Reddy (JD-S) has liabilities worth Rs.222 crore followed by former state chief minister H.D. Kumaraswamy (Rs.73 crore) and Suresh Angadi of BJP (Rs.37 crore).
Kumaraswamy, a lawmaker in the state legislative assembly from Ramanagara segment, is contesting from Chikkaballapur against Petroleum and Natural Gas Minister M. Veerappa Moily. Angadi is contesting from Belgaum.
The ADR analysis has also revealed that 51 candidates have declared assets less than Rs.1 lakh, with K. Mahadevappa of Bharatiya Ambedkar Janata Party (unrecoginsed party) having the least assets -- Rs.500.
He is contesting from Mandya in the southern region of the state.
Others with least assets include D. Ambrose, an independent from Bangalore Central (Rs.575) and M.S. Narayanaswamy of BJP from Kolar (Rs.1,000).
In all, 133 candidates, including four billionaires, have not disclosed their PAN (permanent account number).
At the same time, four candidates -- Mirza Shafee Baig, an independent from Bidar; Ramudu of BSP from Bellary; Basavanteppa Honnappa Hullatti of Sarva Janata Party from Haveri and G. Manjunatha, independent from Udupi-Chikmagalur seat declared zero assets in their affidavits.
Among the high-profile candidates with criminal cases against them are former chief minister B.S. Yeddyurappa of BJP (Shimoga); Pramod Mutalik, independent (Bangalore South and Dharwad); Shrimant Balasaheb Patil of JD-S (Chikkodi); B. Sriramulu of BJP (Bellary); former chief minister N. Dharam Singh of Congress (Bidar) and Rizwan Arshad of Congress (Bangalore Central).