Bhubaneswar:28/4/19: The analysts often reiterate that money is an inseparable ingredient to win elections and wealthy people are better suited to jump into the poll bandwagon. In the context of Odisha languishing in the bottom ladders of development index, this has come as an ironic reality with steady rise in the ratio of ‘Crorepati Netas’ trying out their electoral luck in 2019 polls.
A report by Odisha Election Watch and Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) which analysed the self-sworn affidavits of 1121 out of 1137 candidates who are contesting in the Odisha 2019 Assembly Elections from Phase 1 to 4 has brought to the fore the jump in the number of cash-rich candidates.
Of the 1121 candidates analysed, 304 contestants in Odisha elections this time (27%) are crorepatis with average assets of all the contestants estimated at Rs 1.69 crores.
The number of millionaires in the fray has also gone up in 2019 polls. Of the 1420 candidates in 2014 elections, 244 (17%) candidates were crorepatis while 94 out of 1261 candidates (7%) analysed during Odisha 2009 elections, 94 (7%) owned assets worth more than Rs one crore.
The BJD which is in power for 19 years in the State has fielded the highest number and percentage of candidates than their rival parties. 97 BJD candidates are millionaires which amount to 66% of its total candidates in the fray. 75 (52%) out of 145 candidates from BJP, 73 (53%) Congress candidates and 75 (52%) BJP candidates also own assets more than Rs one crore.
The average of assets per candidate contesting in the Odisha Assembly Elections has also jumped in past three elections. While average assets owned by candidates in 2019 polls are estimated at Rs 1.69 crore, it was Rs 91.14 lakh and Rs 50.88 lakh in 2014 and 2009 assembly polls.
Contesting polls to represent people in the assembly and parliament has become the exclusive preserve of rich people. The common men could take part in the festival democracy by casting votes. But to get elected as people’s representative, one has to be armed with wads of notes. The party affiliation, individual integrity and mass connect comes next, said Rajiv Lochan Hota, a voter from Kendrapara parliamentary constituency where several rich candidates are trying out their luck in both the assembly and Lok Sabha polls.