RTI effect: Ministers’ assets revealed!

Praful Patel falls among the richest while Mamata Banerjee is one of the `poor` ministers.

Zeenews Bureau

New Delhi: In a first, the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) has made the assets of the Central ministers public.

The information, provided to activist Subhash Chandra Aggarwal under the Right to Information (RTI) Act, throws up some interesting facts about our ministers.

NCP’s Praful Patel, flying high on the Civil Aviation Ministry seat, is among the richest Cabinet ministers in UPA-II with Rs 33 crore in assets. On the other hand, Mamata Banerjee, the Railway Minister, the chief of one of the world’s biggest employers, is among the “poorest” ministers. She has assets worth little over Rs 6.7 lakh, including 10 grams of gold.

Commerce Minister Anand Sharma, whose daily work involves “dealing” in millions of dollars, boasts of a personal wealth of only Rs 26,741. Similar is the case of Food Processing Minister Subodh Kant Sahai, whose assets total Rs 1.4 lakh, Urban Development Minister S Jaipal Reddy with assets of Rs 3.3 lakh, and Social Justice Minister Mukul Wasnik who has assets worth only Rs 3.3 lakh.

Even flamboyant Farooq Abdullah, the Renewable Energy Minister, has assets of barely Rs 6.5 lakh.

Unexpectedly, high-profile minister Sharad Pawar claims to have just Rs 3.9 crore in assets, while Telecom Minister A Raja has assets worth Rs 73.9 lakh.

The rich are also quite a number, including some with “royal” background.

Besides Civil Aviation Minister Praful Patel who tops this list, there are Jyotiraditya Scindia and Kapil Sibal with assets to the tune of Rs 20 crores each. Exclude from these the assets and incomes of their wives and dependents.

Chemicals Minister M K Alagiri too has a net worth of some Rs 9 crores.

The list provided by the PMO details the assets and liabilities of 77 ministers. It is the first time that ministers’ assets have been revealed under the RTI.

As an obligation, the ministers have to file details of their assets and liabilities with the PMO every year.

The information accessed by RTI activist Aggarwal came after a long legal battle, who even had to appeal with the Central Information Commission against the PMO decision refusing to disclose the ministers’ assets. The details were first sought in January 2009.

The Cabinet had on Monday agreed to disclose the assets.