Huffington Post arrives at $2 billion figure on Congress chief without naming sources
New Delhi: The Congress on Monday rejected a report that its president Sonia Gandhi was 12th richest world leader, worth $2 billion (roughly Rs12,500 crore), ahead of Queen Elizabeth of Britain and the Amir of Kuwait Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad and Syria’s Bashar al-Assad.
The report, published by Huffington Post, an American online news aggregator went viral on the internet. Congress has rubbished the report. Though the news aggregator has not mentioned a source of its findings, it has put Vladimir Putin, the president of Russia, on top of the list with riches worth $40 billion, followed by Bhumibol Adulyadej, the king of Thailand ($30 billion), and Hassanal Bolkiah, the Sultan of Brunei ($20 billion).
According to the website, Gandhi’s riches even beat Albert II, the Prince of Monaco, Qaboos bin Said, the Sultan of Oman, and Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, the president of Equatorial Guinea. They are all worth $1 billion. Syria’s president Bashar al-Assad is 16th on the list with riches worth $550 million. And Elizabeth II, the Queen of England, ranks 18th in the list with riches worth $400 million to $500 million.
Put on the back foot by these disclosures, Congress spokespersons on Monday cancelled usual press briefings. And it was left to information and broadcasting minister Manish Tiwari to question the credibility of the report.
Reacting to the Huffington Post’s un-sourced revelations, Tiwari described them “absurd” and “ridiculous”. “If Huffington Post would stick to huffing puffing then I think they would do a much better job for themselves. Because if you do put out these absurd and ridiculous things out in print, then you only open yourself to be made a laughing stock. I would not even like to dignify with a response.”
Sonia Gandhi’s alleged riches and India’s GDP show a wide gap, compared to other countries with rich leaders. While $2 billion worth Gandhi’s party supervises a GDP per capita of just $1500, Emir of Qatar Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani also worth $2 billion has a GDP of $90,000 in his country. The Moroccan King having riches to the tune of $2.5 billion supervises $3000 GDP economy. Prince of tiny Liechtenstein worth $2.5 billion has $135,000 worth GDP in his country.
Gandhi’s riches as revealed by the American website could not be corroborated by any source in New Delhi. The only figures of her riches available are her 2009 affidavit, she had filed along with her Lok Sabha nomination. She has mentioned that she owns neither a car nor a house in India but she has an ancestral home in Italy valued at Rs18.02 lakh.
Sonia Gandhi’s assets, according to the affidavit, totalled Rs1.38 crore, nearly Rs1 crore less than what her son Rahul Gandhi reportedly has. Gandhi’s affidavit said that she had Rs75,000 in cash and Rs28.61 lakh in bank deposits. In addition she had mutual funds worth about Rs20 lakh and Rs12 lakh in RBI bonds. A sum of Rs199,000 was deposited in post offices and Rs24.88 lakh with the Public Provident Fund. Sonia Gandhi’s jewellery, weighing about 2.5kg, was valued at Rs11 lakh while 88kg of silver possessed by her was stated to be worth about Rs18 lakh. She owns two plots of agricultural land totalling up to about 15 bighas and valued at Rs219,000. Their location is not mentioned in the affidavit.
dna correspondent @dna
Published Date: Dec 03, 2013