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4

Mumbai, 8th February, 2016, Mumbai: So what is going on with RNA Builders? Back in December 2013, those who had purchased flats in RNA Grande, Kandivali West, must have been quite impressed by this notice issued by RNA Universal, signed by Anil Aggarwal himself, proclaiming that flat buyers would be given possession for interior decoration and furniture work in October 2014, subject to force majeure. The passing away of Anil Aggarwal in May 2014 from the complications of bariatric surgery must indeed have been a “force majeure”, because the project is very far from complete, and hundreds of flat purchasers have become “Project Affected People”. It's an old story; shit happens, and it keeps happening in Mumbai. 

So, is RNA Corp the victim of a financial crisis? Or is it a willful defaulter and habitual truant? This auction notice says that RNA Corporate Park owes State Bank of India Rs 61.50 crore, and to realize this amount, parcels of land in Palghar district owned by RNA Corp Pvt. Ltd. will be auctioned. (If you have super-deep pockets and wish to bid in the auction, 23rd February 2016 is the last date for submitting your request letter of participation). But knowledgeable insiders think that SBI has joined the long list of RNA Corp's victims, because the land being auctioned is barely worth even Rs 40 crore, and so Anil's sons Anubhav and Gokul Aggarwal are saving over Rs 21 crore by being willful defaulters and letting the bank take a hit. Anil Aggarwal was a dab hand at fooling the government and the public, and he will now be laughing from the grave as his sons follow in his footsteps, they allege. It certainly looks like they could be right!

The art of selling an 18th floor flat in a 16-storey building is certainly something that the Aggarwals seem to excel at. Even Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis isn't surprised! In October 2015, RNA Corp spent crores on this front-page cover advert in prominent national dailies, showing their closeness to the Maharashtra Chief Minister and the Mira Bhayendar politicos. Barely three months later, in January 2016, the land-grabbing by RNA in Mira-Bhayendar was discovered, and a Stop Work Notice was issued by the District Collector. But did the Chief Minister blush? Nope, he didn't bat an eyelid! Fadnavis must have been thinking, “The Aggarwals made a fool of me, so what's new? It's all right, business-as-usual, because they have been making fools of Maharashtra government for a long time”.

It is indeed a fact of life that the late Anil Aggarwal has frequently given the babaji-ka-thullu to the administration in Maharashtra, and in return, they have kept giving him fresh lifelines. Many powerful people keep raising their voices against RNA, to no avail. A lesser business group would have fled in shame from the construction industry, but RNA Corp and its group companies just keep marching on. Hats off to them!

Some instances of when people and authorities pinpointed RNA's misdoings:

  1. Dr. Bharati Lavekar, BJP MLA from Versova, wrote this letter to CM Fadnavis last week, requesting him to cancel the agreement of Aram Nagar redevelopment project awarded to RNA by MHADA. She wrote that the tenants of Aram Nagar were kept in dark and the project would only benefit only RNA, and not tenants. The CM noted in red ink on the letter that VP MHADA should stay the redevelopment process and examine the issues.

  2. “The SRA scheme was initiated by the government to give a better quality of life to slumdwellers by moving them into well-constructed buildings. But the developer has taken undue advantage of this scheme for the last 12 years and is causing harassment to the Project Affected Persons (PAPs),” wrote Rajya Sabha MP Ramdas Athawale in this letter to Fadnavis in February 2015. In this letter, Athawale complained that although RNA builders had undertaken the redevelopment of Parishram SRA Cooperative Housing Society in Bandra East in 2002, it had completely stopped the construction work for the last two years, stopped paying rent to the displaced persons, and bounced the cheques issued to them. Although RNA was granted Commencement Certificate (CC) in 2004, it delayed construction by continually changing the plans of the sale-component for its undue advantage. As per a CAG report and as per the SRA Act, appropriate action has to be taken against the developer, Athawale said. After the demise of Anil Agarwal, his company was required to submit fresh Annexure-3 (financial capability report), or the developer should be changed by SRA, Athawale pointed out. “The developer has constructed A1 and A2 buildings in which the height of the individual flats is less than 8 ft 3 inches. The developer was given notice to demolish the same. After that, the same buildings were regularized.” said Athawale, pointing out the collusion of the administration with Anil Aggarwal. “The developer has illegally incorporated into his project the areas occupied by shop owners who are not within the scope of the SRA scheme. Also, he has illegally incorporated open plot of market admeasuring 2300 sq. metres. The developer has included 56 bogus Project Affected Persons (PAPs) supported by bogus documents. For the last 10 years, many people were accommodated in the transit camp, in individual units admeasuring around 100 square feet, forcing the families to live in cramped conditions and raising the probability of accidents. An FIR was registered against the builders for various MRTP violations. The offences were explained in a letter to the then Chief Minister Ashok Chavan by project affected persons

     

  3. Bombay High Court passed an order against GA Builders, an RNA group entity, on 21st September 2015 for not paying rent to tenants and not getting Occupation Certificate (OC). GA Builders Pvt. Ltd. is owned by Gokul Anilkumar Aggarwal, Anubhav Anilkumar Aggarwal and Saranga Anil Aggarwal. The order in “Manjula S. Chauhan V/s. GA Builders Pvt. Ltd. and Others” panned the builder for not getting Occupation Certificate, not paying transit rent and also breach of undertaking given to the court. But this order reveals only the tip of the iceberg; the society in question, namely GA Ganga Sagar CHS of Ghatkopar East, is so full of fraud, forgery and violations committed by GA Builders in collusion with the society's office bearers, that this building can never hope to get MCGM's occupation certificate. There are many criminal and civil suits pending in Metropolitan Court and High court pending in this case.

  4. East & West Builders (RNA Group) with the connivance of MCGM and SRA officials, illegally incorporated the Shastrinagar Municipal Market, Bandra East, and its open plot into an SRA scheme, causing MCGM an estimated loss of over Rs 150 crore. Thirteen shop owners led by Prabhakar M Shetty wrote a letter to CM Devendra Fadnavis in January 2015, explaining their plight. The letter says that in 2012, the developer demolished six shops completely and 21 shops partially, reducing their length by 12 feet and leaving only five feet. The shopkeepers were promised that they would be accommodated in the newly constructed building within six months. But till date, the construction work had not commenced, nor were they given any rent for alternative accommodation. In fact, after giving cheques to the shopkeepers, the builder fraudulently issued stop-payment instructions. All the shopkeepers' efforts to contact the developer on phone and in person have been futile. Although the developer has received IOA and CC as early as 2004, the A4 building that is supposed to be constructed for shop-owners of municipal market has not been started. The site for A4 building is currently an open plot without any obstructions or encumbrances, but the work is at a complete standstill. 

  5. In January 2012, MCGM itself had red-flagged RNA with this show-cause notice. Assistant Commissioner (Estates), MCGM, wrote to RNA's East & West Builders: “Whereas the Pariwar Safalya Cooperative Housing Society formed by the tenants on the subject property have appointed you as the developer for the redevelopment of the property; Whereas your architect has submitted the proposal for redevelopment of above property, the same was approved by Improvement Committee/Corporation under the Resolution no. 174 dated 7th Feb 2005 and No. 113 dated 10th February 2005 respectively, as per the total capitalized value amounting to Rs 29,02,91,270/- in the scheme is required to be paid by you to MCGM; Whereas you were required to complete the project within three years and also to pay remaining 90% capitalized value to MCGM before Occupation Certificate to sale component; Whereas you have failed to complete the project till date as the project completion period is already over on 17th March 2010 and therefore cost delay for payment 90% capitalized value to the MCGM till this date; Whereas it is a failure on your part to complete the project within stipulated period which is causing loss of revenue to the MCGM and hardship to the tenants residing in the old buildings who had consented for this development as per the clause in the tripartite agreement, the project period is fixed as three years from the date of issuance of the commencement certificate by Building Proposal Department. The project period can be extended by the Municipal Corporation for the reason of delay state in your reply letter subject to your consent and payment of capitalized value on revised 20:60:20 basis of approval vide ICR 175 dated 4th February 2009 and CR/1259 dated 9thFebruary 2009 respectively; This office has received orders from Additional Municipal Commissioner to inform you that the Municipal Commissioner will not extend the project period if you are not able to give satisfactory explanation of the delay in completion of the project... You are hereby finally directed to show cause within seven days on receipt of this letter and to pay the 90% capitalized value amounting to Rs 26,12,62,143/- with interest thereon at 18% calculated till 31st December 2011, amounting to Rs 8,43,91,251/-. The total amounting to Rs 34,56,53,394/- within seven days and payment of applicable stamp duty with penalty if any failing which following action will be initiated against you; The Building Proposal Department will be directed to issue stop work notice for the above referred project work and all other projects undertaken by you in MCGM; You and your companies will not be allowed to take up any other MCGM project in future; The law officer will launch prosecution against you for recovery of payment which is due to MCGM. If the building is found occupied in part or full, the building Proposal Department will be asked to issue notice u/s 353 of MMC Act and take further action, which please note”. This letter has a footnote directing Executive Engineer (Building Proposal) City to issue stop work notice to the Pariwar Safalya CHS redevelopment project and “any other project being undertaken by this developer / Notice u/s 353 of MMC Act and not to process any other redevelopment project as per AMC(ES)s order under No. AMC/ES/702/4 dated 26-12-2011.”

  6. RTI Activist Sulaiman Bhimani, who is also a Project Affected Person (PAP), recently made a detailed complaint to the Economic Offences Wing (EOW) of Mumbai Police regarding the corrupt misdoings of Skyline Construction Company of RNA Group at its SRA project at Oshiwara District Centre (ODC), Jogeshwari West. Highlights of this complaint: “MMRDA has spent almost Rs 9 crore for repairing the substandard work in PAP building in lieu of which TDR was released, and MMRDA has not recovered any amount from the developer, the MMRDA officials accepted the substandard work without any verification. The plumber has certified that he has used AC pipes but on site very low quality and substandard PVC pipes have been used and the engineer who accepted this certificate has not put any note on it for the change of material nor raised any objection for substandard work. The Project Management Consultant (PMC) certified that Plumbing and Drainage work is done as per approved plan, but on site the story is different. The Chambers as per approved plan have been shown 1.5mts away from the building line but onsite they are touching the building line as well as the underground water tank. Due to this shoddy work the water gets contaminated and even after spending Rs 9 crores this defect still exists. The Developer was issued IOA and CC on the same day, which is very unusual. Normally IOA is issued to the developer with 38 conditions to comply and it takes almost 45 days to comply all the conditions of IOA and the developer after complying all the conditions applies for CC and the MMRDA officials visit the site to verify all the compliance but in this case the IOA and CC were issued on the same day. There is open space violation which is in violation of fire safety norms, but MMRDA officials have turned Nelson eyes even after repeated complaints. The Recreation which as per Agreement was supposed to be developed by developer not been handed over to MMRDA for Public Use even after 10 years. Pedestrian Plaza as per Agreement and IOA condition and LOI was supposed to be developed by developer, but the same is not constructed. But TDR/FSI of 55000 sft is released for the same to the developer.” The so-called pedestrian plaza is a scam whereby, without laying a single brick or redeveloping a single inch of slum land, RNA earned 55,000 square feet of TDR, worth over Rs 4,000/- per square foot. That alone means a free gift of over Rs 22 crore for the Aggarwal family. He has also pointed out how RNA Exotica in ODC has gobbled up a 25-metre public road and used it for RNA's site office.

  7. In the case of RNA Palazzo in Kandivali West, which is being advertised as “space, Luxury and lifestyle all packed into your customized 2 BHK apartments”, 24 investors and flat purchasers have filed a complaint to EOW of Mumbai Police of outright cheating and fraud. After cumulatively paying more than Rs 50 crore (some have paid 50 percent, and other 100 percent of the value of the flat purchase), these purchasers are left high and dry, because the construction work stopped in September 2011, and has not resumed till date. The completion date was December 2012, and more thanthree years later, the Aggarwals have nothing to offer their buyers other than false assurances.

There are at least a dozen such stories about RNA Corp in Mumbai, still waiting to be told. One keeps getting calls from victims all the time – many of them so demoralized that they are unlikely to ever lift a finger to even write a letter of complaint.

Well done, Anil Aggarwal. Your legacy is in safe hands. Lagey raho!

WANT TO HEAR ABOUT RNA'S SCAMS FROM THE HORSES' MOUTH? 

CONTACTS:

a) For details on GA Ganga Sagar in Ghatkopar East, call Mukesh Chauhan 9324526890

b) For details on RNA Grande in Kandivali West, call Mr Mihir 75060940. 

c) For details on RNA's SRA project at Sewri, call Sujata Vijay Kumar 9869286842

d) For details on RNA's Aram Nagar redevelopment project in Versova, call Shaikh Nasreen 9833639370 

e) For details of RNA Palazzo project, Kandivali West, call Advocate Ameet Mehta 9821283232

f) For details of RNA's redevelopment project in Kalina (where the building was demolished five years ago, and rent for alternative accommodation stopped getting paid), 

g) For details of RNA's multifaceted cheating in the SRA project at Oshiwara District Centre, RNA Exotica and many other RNA projects in Mumbai,call Sulaiman Bhimani 9323642081

ISSUED IN PUBLIC INTEREST BY

KRISHNARAJ RAO

9821588114

2

Guest post by Milan Gupta

Yesterday (on 28th December, 2015) Santosh Desai ( @desaisantosh ) published his opinion column titled “2015: The Empire Strikes back” in TOI(Times of India) Delhi edition newspaper. Mr Desai has often expressed optimism in the future of Indian democracy and has been a keen observer of the historical political trends especially of the last 4-5 years. I have often found him amongst the few rare writers who are very forward looking.

When I did read his statements in the column yesterday which were courageously frank like :

“ There is much deeper question here. Is change of a meaningful kind at all possible in India…”,

“Is there something inexorable and deep in the way the polity functions that makes change a virtual impossibility”

“For a brief period, it looked as if the impetus for change would come from a new vision of a more participative form of democracy, but those hopes lie in tatters.”

I do think that a pessimism has grown in the intellectuals class and that predictably hope is being questioned by them again. The world belongs to the new and the young. The ones who have a stake in the future have a responsibility to shun such pessimism how so ever well intentioned it may be from the intellectuals.

I respond to Santosh. He is much older to me and I seek his forgiveness if ever I do sound disrespectful.

The future is bright, Santosh.

Over the last few years, the political discourse has changed so radically that the fear of politicians at least in the metros has almost disappeared. You find Radio jockeys taking such digs at senior political figures which was unthinkable even till 2010. An Anupam Kher in 2010 was issued a privilege motion by Sanjay Nirupam in the Maharashtra assembly for questioning the political class. Such digs at political class are a common place now.

Pilots, least of all Air India’s, never refused entry to late coming VIPs in their planes. But now , we have all heard of how the Kerala governor, a lazy retired Supreme Court judge, was snubbed by the national carrier’s pilot. I couldn’t have called the Kerala governor “a lazy retired Supreme Court judge” in public, a clear disrespect to his post from me, and not be scared of a witch hunt.

Things have changed radically and irreversibly over the last few years. This is the decade of change. The change by the end of the decade will be of gargantuan proportions. Perhaps because we have such a very open social media that its not possible to control any individual now. Yet the credit for the change must go not to the technology but to the Indian people. The Arab Spring has totally misused the social media and the revolution there has turned violent. Pakistan and other countries too have the same tool, but its only in India that the change is happening rapidly and non-violently.

I must take your much deeper question head on where you questioned existence of something inexorable and deep in the way Indian polity functions.

Yes. It exists. It is deep. And very well hidden from common discourse. But its not inexorable at all.

Democracy means not only the right to elect, but it also means right to get elected to the eligible. Dictatorships are controlled by giving the eligible the right to vote but not the right to get elected. Go deep in the direction of how the right to get elected for the legally eligible is curtailed in India, and you would find where that deep problem (and not an insurmountable one) lies.

It is of course not possible for me to briefly show here what that deep rot is which can be easily removed. However, I would briefly point where an answer would lie to one of your question on the Parliament logjam.

If the government is in minority in the Rajya Sabha, why should the leader of the house be from the government at all? Why should the government at all be able to have the final say in the conduct of business of the Rajya Sabha, even what bills and motion to be moved in it? Identify the reason for that contradiction and the log jam in Rajya Sabha can be resolved.

Answers to our questions and the deep rot can be found only if we promise not to give up on hope. We have achieved a lot. The youth are as responsible as any other time. Hope, achievements and debates remain their quintessential characters. The hope must remain unquestionably alive. That’s what has brought us so far.

We’ll have the good life within our life time. The empire is already crumbling.

5

Ever since Aam Aadmi Party's stunning win in Delhi Assembly elections, there is a rash of analysis and advice for Modi government (which has mostly fallen on deaf ears, and no surprise there - they know their support base).

I have several opinions around this issue that differ from the common consensus, so sharing them.

Development or Hindutva?

Several people are looking at BJP's stunning defeat in the Delhi Assembly elections as a rejection of their communal agenda by people. This couldn't be further from the truth. As Yashwant Sinha rightfully pointed out in his piece in the Economic Times, BJP's vote share hasn't really dropped all that drastically. The last time Delhi saw a BJP government was in 1993. In 1998, BJP got dislodged by the Sheila Dixit led Congress Party governments right up to the previous election where AAP formed a minority government. BJP's vote share for Assembly Elections has not really changed much.

[tweetthis twitter_handles="@Vidyut, @_AamJanata"]BJP has lost Delhi with a higher vote share than it had when it got the most seats in 2013[/tweetthis]

BJP got 34.02% votes in 1998, 35.22 in 2003, and 36.34 in 2008 - all three of which it lost to the Congress. The splitting of the decaying Congress vote between Congress and AAP in 2013 saw it get the most seats in the 2013 elections with just 33.07% of the votes - actually lower than all the intervening years when it lost. They didn't have the numbers to form a majority government, but they did get the most votes.

This, to me indicates that around slightly more than a third of the voters - give or take - are with BJP no matter what - regardless of how it plays out in the results. This number has sustained through several losses - it is now the fifth time BJP has failed to form a government in Delhi. I would see this as an ideological base to a large extent - which it has retained. And the numbers pretty much show that as long as one viable alternative exists, whether Congress or AAP - BJP remains out of power in Delhi.

So what is it about the "Mandate for Development"?

That is the part BJP supporters omit. When Modi was campaigning for the Lok Sabha Elections promoting development, the BJP vote share was NOT around a third and approached closer to half at 46%. In this election, it went back to normal. In other words, if anyone believed the development propaganda, they have stopped believing it now.

This was inevitable, because it was the throwaway mandate by design. What is telling about this mandate is that even if we ignore the Lok Sabha vote share, what is immediately evident is that BJP failed to gain votes from the complete decimation of a party that ruled Delhi for 15 years - it actually lost votes even if not a large percentage. Congress votes simply went over to AAP while even BJP share dropped slightly as though AAP stepped into the vacuum left by Congress seamlessly while adding other voters as well. In other words, no one other than loyalists seem to have remained with BJP in Delhi. AAP, which didn't exist two years ago got a vote share of 54% - an actual majority of votes as well (even if not as representative of remaining 46%).If this doesn't scream irrelevance to the realities and changes happening in Delhi, I don't know what does.

Why can't BJP just start focusing on development again?

They are focusing on development. They never stopped. Only after elections, the development focus has been made clearer as the development of the large corporate mandate - which has been the hidden third mandate no one spoke about all through. The victory was a result of all three mandates. The Hindutva wing provided ground support and volunteers through unaccountable funding, while radicalizing the masses to consolidate the Hindu votes. The crony capitalist mandate provided the finances as well as control of media to extend the reach of campaign propaganda, as well as attack opponents and cover up things that would not bring popularity to BJP. The development mandate provided the votes that took Modi's government beyond the "Delhi standard" vote share.

The last was the domain of most of Modi's speeches and one never intended for delivery - which is how all the U-Turns started popping up as soon as the government came to power. Given that the corporate world and the unwashed masses have always been at odds, it was absolutely impossible that the Modi government could deliver on both development as well as crony capitalism.

While positions of power and social impunity went to the ideological mandate, Hindutva (appointments, social "reforms" like gharwapsi or text book alterations); profits and economic impunity went to the corporate mandate (sabotaging of land rights, environmental protections, and much, much more - this is HUGE MONEY). Delivering to the common man at large was never the intent - this was a consolidation of power and control, not service task. Some things may be done that don't inconvenience either of the other two "real" backers. They will be publicized to the hilt to create a perception of vast service to people, but there is only so much you can tell people they are experiencing prosperity if they aren't. We saw that this elections.

But what about secularism?

What about it? It is lip service. Communal control over country is what the Hindutva brigade got for its investment in the Modi government. Secularism is not compatible with it. Would Modi like to be communal? I don't think so. Modi is a narcissist. He is rather besotted with his image as a progressive leader, which is opposite of regressive. Which is how, in spite of altering textbooks to more Hindutva friendly versions or pretending not to notice the rise of the fan clubs for Nathuram Godse, he continues to use Congress leaders when trying to impress people. It is the best he can do. To pretend he does not see the rise of communalism and give them the impunity of his silence.

Not that he has much choice, because if he endorses secularism, his Hindutva supporters (almost his entire vote bank at this stage) will simply ignore him. Not even the lowliest troll shows an iota of respect for Modi when he calls for religious tolerance.

So, I disagree with a lot of columnists when they recommend things that Modi should do to regain his popularity. Modi cannot regain his popularity by speaking of development, since he hasn't delivered it. Modi cannot regain his popularity by endorsing secularism because his core vote bank will not allow it. The disillusioned voters who get swung on hope, have swung AAP's way this time. All Modi will end up doing if he tries to get secular is piss off his supporters. All Modi will end up doing if he actually tries to deliver on promises is piss off profiteers who are in no mood to share.

His best bets are to keep his head low and siphon off as much profit to his sponsors and power to his mentors as he can. It is going to be very difficult to pull off a second con this close to the first.

Every predator is someone else's prey

However, Modi is going to need to find new ways to hook voters. The AAP victory has made a mockery of his claims of development - a fact no other state going for elections will forget. When Nitish Kumar praised Trinamool Congress, BJP supporters were quick to sneer at an anti-BJP front, but both Uddhav Thackeray and Sharad Pawar too have taken pot shots at Modi in recent days. Incidentally, this would be the same Sharad Pawar of the Nationalist Corrupt Party that Modi gushed over on Valentine's Day as the one to support him when the UPA was in power.

This is going to be a problem. Because Modi will be a laughing stock if he tries to rule forever with ordinances. At the same time, without winning in states, he is going to find it very difficult to get any bills through the Rajya Sabha.

If a runaway victory for AAP creates a potential democracy crisis in Delhi Government, it is countered by the control exerted by a hostile center government.

Similarly a runaway victory for the BJP government is held in check by the "anti-BJP" fronts mushrooming. The Delhi Elections may have dazzled everything else out of the spotlight, but the AAP government was endorsed by the extremely unlikely pair of CPI as well as TMC in Delhi - who both asked their followers to vote for AAP. Nitish Kumar as well. At least three other political leaders of other parties have voiced skepticism over targeting of AAP via AVAM just days before the elections. Bihar sees another unlikely pair willing to cooperate to defeat BJP with Nitish Kumar and Lalu Prasad Yadav burying their legendary hostility to defeat the BJP. Aditya Thackeray welcomed the rise of AAP in Maharashtra (more a taunt to BJP than any real wish to embrace AAP values or compete on such a premise at all).

Given such a climate, BJP appears to have few choices beyond counting on its Hindutva loyalists to deliver miracles and the corporate mandate to do PR as well as damage control while they use every dirty trick in the book to discredit opponents. I am amazed they haven't yet applied their phenomenal strategy skills to splitting opponent votes between two strong opponents rather than this harder way of discrediting or dummy candidates and such, but I am delighted they haven't. In any case, I don't imagine any change of methods is on the cards for BJP at this stage.

Thus, any pleas to Modi to deliver development or embrace secularism, in my view are highly unlikely to materialize - no matter how many columnists think they are a good idea.

3

This one on the disproportionate increase in wealth of crorepatis in Union Cabinet lived briefly and died silently on the Times of India website. The beginning of a trend of vanishing reports on questionable increases in wealth that would later be seen more dramatically in Reports of suspicious growth in assets of Gujarat politicians removed from news sites

The Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) has faulted the format for declaration of assets adopted by the government saying it did not provide a correct indicator of the ministers' wealth and defeated the exercise towards transparency.

Several ministers in the cabinet have shown a dramatic increase in assets in just the last 5 months which ADR has attributed to lack of a standardized format for ministers' asset declaration. It said that in many cases ministers have either not given the value of their moveable and immoveable assets or not given the present market value which has led to discrepancies. For instance ministers including Jitendra Singh, V K Singh, Ananth Kumar, and Sripad Naik have not given value for moveable assets to the PMO while Harsh Vardhan, Venkaiah Naidu and Sushma Swaraj have not given value for their immoveable assets.

ADR claimed that railway minister Sadananda Gowda's wealth increased by over Rs 10.46 crore from Rs 9.99 crore in May to Rs 20.35 crore in October and assets worth Rs 10 crore had been acquired in the interim. However in response to reports Gowda tweeted that the properties were bought earlier with a loan worth Rs 8 crore from Federal Bank and Rs 2 crore had been paid in advance. He is followed by heavy industry MoS Radhakrishnan P who has shown an increase of Rs 2.98 crore (from assets worth Rs 4.09 crore to Rs 7.07 crore) and finance minister Arun Jaitley whose wealth has increased by 1% from Rs 113.02 crore to Rs 114.03 crore.

Union ministers Rajnath Singh, M Venkaiah Naidu, Sushma Swaraj and Anant Kumar at BJP headquarters in New Delhi
Union ministers Rajnath Singh, M Venkaiah Naidu, Sushma Swaraj and Anant Kumar at BJP headquarters in New Delhi (PTI Photo)

Minister for social justice and empowerment Thaawar Chand Gehlot whose personal wealth increased by 323% in the last two years has seen the sharpest rise in a cabinet dominated by crorepatis. He is followed by power and coal minister Piyush Goyal whose assets have increased by 212% since 2010. According to ADR analysis the overwhelming majority of ministers (91%) that is 41 of the 45 ministers are crorepatis with average assets worth Rs 14.32 crore.

Among the ministers—who did not contest the Lok Sabha polls—whose personal wealth has risen sharply are social justice and empowerment minister Thaawar Chand Gehlot whose assets increase by 323% in two years. According to the declaration he made to the Rajya Sabha in 2012 Gehlot's assets were Rs 86.12 lakh which have shot up to Rs 3.64 crore in October 2014. Coal and power minister Piyush Goyal came in second with his assets increasing by 212% from Rs 30.34 crore in 2010 (according to the affidavit submitted to the Rajya Sabha) to Rs 64.31 crore. MoS for Petroleum Dharmendra Pradhan's assets grew by 61% since 2012 from Rs 1.54 crore to Rs 2.48 crore. Communications and law minister Ravi Shankar Prasad's wealth rose by 27% in two years while urban development minister Venkaiah Naidu's assets grew by 28% in four years.

3

After Madhu Kishwar raised the question of Smriti Irani's educational qualifications, the internet has been busy. It seems she has submitted different details at different times. Notably her affidavit for Lok Sabha Election 2004 from Chandni Chowk said she was a B.A. (1996) [page sc5] from Delhi University (School of Correspondence) in 2004 and for Rajya Sabha, Smriti Irani's 2011 affidavit states B.Com. Part 1 [page 10] and the same in affidavit for Lok Sabha Election 2014 from Amethi.

Basically, it is all very exciting, but I don't think it amounts to much, as the lie is more likely to be her earlier affidavit from 2004 Chandni Chowk, which if I remember correctly, she lost to Kapil Sibal, so she can hardly get disqualified from that and it is too late anyway. My guess is that she would have the documents for this one ready to give whoever so much as raises an eyebrow, so I think that this is at best a curiosity exercise.

At best it is an embarrassment that the MP no handling education has a history of faking educational qualifications on an election affidavit.

This may not be such a bad thing from my Point of View, which is very interested in people in charge of education actually understanding the plight of alternatively schooled people and homeschoolers who can face professional prejudice over these pieces of paper which rarely return well educated citizens anyway.

Update: Several people have informed me that Section 125A of the Representation of People Act, 1951 says that false affidavit by candidate has 6 months jail punishment. This may be true. I have not verified, but it is unclear who is going to prosecute, and I doubt the government will give permission. Also, unsure if a wrong affidavit can be prosecuted 10 years later or if there is some time frame when it can be challenged. Someone with more legal knowledge is probably better qualified to comment on this than me.