Almost a year ago, on the verge of Madhya Pradesh Assembly election, The Economic Times published a story titled, ‘The richer wives of rich Indian politicians.’ The story was about the wives of the candidates in MP assembly election, being richer- despite no source of income- than the candidates themselves. However, if we analyze the Indian politicians and political families, it is evident that this phenomenon is not limited to wives of the politicians, but true for the whole family.
Generally, it is found that, the family members of the politicians are many times richer than the head politician. The latest example of this is the declared wealth of Devansh, the grandson of Chandrababu Naidu.
As per the declaration, the net worth of Naidu’s assets is Rs 3.87 crore by March 31, 2019. Devansh possesses assets worth Rs 19.42 crore. Devansh is richer than his father Lokesh too. Devansh is richer by nearly Rs 15.55 crore in terms of assets, without any source of income.
The second example of this is Abhishek Banerjee, the nephew and heir apparent of Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee. Trinamool chief is known for her austere lifestyle and has always flaunted her poverty as an evidence of being pro-people and non-corrupt politics. He even donates the money earned through sales of her poetry books, paintings and salary. But her nephew Abhishek Banerjee hosted lavish wedding function at a five star hotel in Delhi.
In the 2019 general election, Abhishek spent 64.22 lakh rupees in campaign in his constituency, as per a report by Association of Democratic Reforms. As per the election affidavit, Banerjee has close to 1.38 crore rupees asset. Apart from the documented wealth, Banerjee lives in grand residence and enjoys Z+ security, the same as Mamata Banerjee.
Similarly, as per a case filed by Income Tax against Lalu Yadav’s family, they have Benami property worth more than 1,000 crore rupees. Lalu claims to be politician of poor and his rallies are often named ‘Gareeb Kisan Mazdoor rally’, which loosely translates into ‘Poor, farmer, and worker rally’. However, the family of the person of who claims to be ‘messiah of poor’, has benami property of more than 1,000 crore rupees.
Mayawati, the Dalit leader whose politics revolves around poor people, has amassed huge wealth for herself and her family in three decades political career. As per a report by The Economic Times, Anand Kumar- brother of Mayawati- is worth more than 1,300 crore rupees or 200 million dollars. Between 2007 and 2014, the period which largely resembles with Mayawati tenure as UP CM, the wealth of Anand Kumar rose from Rs 7.5 crore to Rs 1,316 crore.
This phenomenon is not limited to only these politicians. Almost every regional political party, most of whom are run as family fiefdom, has amassed huge wealth for the family members. This includes the Badals and Majithia family in Punjab, the Jayalalitha family in Tamil Nadu, KCR family in Telangana, Pattnaik family in Odisha, Gogoi family in Assam and many other small names.
Among the national parties, the national opposition, Congress, did the same. Robert Vadra amassed huge wealth under the UPA government through shady land and arms deals. In fact, the Congress party set the trend among the political families of the country to promote the family fiefdom in politics and amassing huge wealth in the name of family members.
By amassing wealth for the family members, these politicians project themselves as poor, as did by Mamata Banerjee and Jayalalitha who often said that they did not have direct family to amass wealth for, for promoted members from extended family and bought properties in their name.