Friday, December 6, 2013

Disclosure Of Assets Part 3 : In affidavits, political leaders declare their gold, minus all its glitter

The love of Indians for gold and silver is legendary and Indian politicians are no exception to this fondness for precious metals.

But unlike most Indians who are known to flaunt their jewellery, political leaders prefer to remain modest about their glitter. Or at least that is the message they seem keen to send when they declare the gold and silver they own in their election affidavits.

The Indian Express study of affidavits submitted by prominent leaders over the last decade has found that many among them are vague about the amount of jewellery they own.

Unlike immovable property, valuing gold and silver is relatively easy as their prices can be easily accessed at any given time. But that does not seem to deter many leaders from undervaluing their jewellery or assigning arbitrary values to them.

The following are some leading examples:
RAHUL GANDHI: The Amethi MP and now Congress vice-president declared that his 333 gm of jewellery was worth Rs 1.25 lakh both in 2004 and 2009 "as per wealth return".

SONIA GANDHI: The UPA chairperson declared she owned 2,518.45 gm gold jewellery and said it was valued at Rs 11.08 lakh in 2009, translating to a rate of Rs 4,500 per 10 gm. However, gold prices in the last quarter of 2008 and first quarter of 2009, before the Lok Sabha elections, were in the range of Rs 13,000 to Rs 15,000. Her declaration said the value was as on March 31, 2008. But even on that day gold prices were much higher than what Sonia declared.

SUSHMA SWARAJ: The BJP leader declared in 2009 she owned 2,005 gm of gold but did not mention its worth. Ditto for the 6 kg silver she said she owned.

L K ADVANI: The veteran BJP leader's wife, it was declared in 2009, owned 1,341.67 gm of jewellery worth Rs 16 lakh but it was not mentioned if all of this was gold or included silver. If it was indeed gold, then it was valued at around Rs 12,000 per 10 gm, which was lower than the market rate.

RAJNATH SINGH: The current BJP president declared in 2009 that he owned 50 gm of gold and that it was worth Rs 50,000 while his wife owned 700 gm of gold worth Rs 10.5 lakh. While the value of his wife's jewellery matched rates prevailing at the time, Singh clearly undervalued his own gold.

The external affairs minister declared in 2009 that his wife owned jewellery worth Rs 3.45 lakh but failed to mention its weight.

The Chhattisgarh chief minister has valued his 57 tolas of gold jewellery at Rs 46,316 per tola while the 217 tolas of gold jewellery owned by his wife is valued at Rs 37,235 per tola ahead of this year's Assembly polls. Also, he has valued his 4 kg silver at Rs 46,250 per kg while his wife's 18 kg silver is valued at Rs 43,888 per kg.

The minister of state for power declared in 2009 that he owned 633 gm of gold and that it was worth Rs 7.48 lakh, or Rs 12,000 per 10 gm.

H D DEVE GOWDA: The former prime minister declared in 2009 that his wife owned 15 tolas of jewellery and that it was worth Rs 1.25 lakh without mentioning whether it was gold or silver.

H D KUMARASWAMY: Gowda's son and a former Karnataka CM, Kumaraswamy declared in 2009 that he owned 1,300 gm of gold and that it was worth Rs 15.6 lakh, or Rs 12,000 per 10 gm, again lower than the prevailing market rate.

V NARAYANASAMY: The minister of state in the PMO declared in 2009 that his 150 gm of gold was worth Rs 1.5 lakh, valued at Rs 10,000 per 10 gm when market rates were about 50 per cent higher. He also declared that his wife's 450 gm of gold jewellery was worth Rs 4 lakh.

SHIBU SOREN: The JMM chief declared in 2009 that his wife owned jewellery worth Rs 20,000 but did not give details.

P J KURIEN: The Congress leader and deputy chairman of the Rajya Sabha declared in2012 that his wife owned 80 gm of jewellery but failed to give any other details.

The Delhi BJP leader declared in 2008 that he owned 657 gm of jewellery worth Rs 11,500, or valued at Rs 175 per 10 gm and said this was gift received from his parents when got married in 1970.
Shyamlal Yadav
New Delhi, Thu Dec 05 2013, 10:36 hrs

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