KOLKATA: In a region where more than 70 per cent of people live below the poverty line, Trinamool Congress (TMC) candidates are the richest among the contestants in 39 Assembly constituencies. The TMC is expected to sweep the April 4 and 11 elections here, as it has clout and has nominated rich candidates.
Samir Chakraborty aka Bua, contesting from Taldangra seat in Bankura district, one of the most undeveloped and backward in the country, has declared assets worth Rs 40 crore. His wife Krishna, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s private secretary when she first became an MP in 1984, is now the chairman of Bidhannagar Municipal Corporation.
Chakraborty’s immovable assets include a bungalow at posh Salt Lake, two luxury flats at Rosedale in New Town and at Regal, and a plot in New Town in Kolkata. His wife owns a flat at a prime locality on the E M Bypass. He had earlier contested elections on a Congress ticket but never won. He worked briefly for a firm, and later invested in a Bengali television channel linked to the multi-crore Saradha chit fund scam. He was summoned and interrogated by central investigative agencies. “This is his declared income. He is the richest nominee in West Bengal,” said a TMC source.
According to affidavits filed with the Election Commission, the average assets of TMC nominees is over Rs 1.5 crore, the highest compared to opposition party candidates.
After the poriborton (change) in 2011 when Mamata ousted the CPI(M)-led Left Front that ruled West Bengal for 34 years, the wheels of fortune turned for TMC leaders. Many turned their hutments into palatial houses, bought luxury vehicles and spent crores for their children’s weddings. Sheik Sufian, a leader of the Nandigram agitation, had a small house, which is now a three-storey building.
Dulal Murmu, a school teacher who got elected from Nayagram on a TMC ticket in 2011, had assets worth Rs 82,079 then. According to his 2016 affidavit, he has assets worth Rs 45,19,747. Murmu lives in a two-storeyed house in Contai, said to be worth Rs 50 lakh. He has an SUV worth Rs 8 lakh, a plot of land and bank balance of Rs 13 lakh.
State Tribal Development Minister Sukumar Hansda, a physician, had assets worth Rs 57,80,271 in 2011 when he was elected from Jhargram. Now they are worth Rs 1,31,24,710.
Another state minister and TMC candidate from Balarampur in Purulia, Shantiram Mahato’s assets quadrupled in five years. In 2011, he had assets worth Rs 7,92,224; now they are worth Rs 32,66,211.
TMC MLA from Ghatal, Shankar Dolui was worth Rs 17,67,000 in 2011; now he has declared that he has assets worth Rs 56,22,000. “I earned as a legislator through my salary and allowances and by farming,” says Dolui.
First Phase@ a Glance
All you need to know about today’s ballot battle in Bengal, Assam
18 constituencies in West Bengal, 65 in Assam go to polls in first phase
Elections will be held in West Bengal’s Maoist-hit areas today
133 candidates in the fray in West Midnapore, Purulia and Bankura
Out of the poll-bound 18 segments, 13 are Naxal-hit areas
Voting will end early at 4 pm itself in these areas
In Assam, 539 candidates are in the fray in first phase
Over 40,000 security personnel deployed in the 65 constituencies in Assam
Assam CM Tarun Gogoi in the fray in Titabor
Polling in the two states is again on April 11