'Union ministers have grown richer since 2009'



New Delhi: Ministers in Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's government have grown richer by an average Rs 10 crore since the 2009 general elections, says a report by an election watchdog.

Among the ministers who have gained the most in the past two years, Dr S Jagathrakshakan of DMK tops the list with an increase of Rs 64.5 crore - from Rs 5.9 crore in 2009 to Rs 70 crore 2011, according to the analysis by Association for Democratic Research (ADR) and National Election Watch (NEW).

Jagathrakshakan, Minister of State for Information and Broadcasting, is followed by Heavy Industries Minister Praful Patel, who has increased his assets by Rs 42 crore - from Rs 79.8 crore in 2009 to Rs 122 crore in 2011.

Urban Development Minister Kamal Nath of Congress is the third richest minister who saw his assets grow by Rs 26 crore - from Rs 14 crore in 2009 to Rs 41 crores in 2011, the report said.

The watchdog said it has derived the figures after comparing the assets declared during the 2009 general elections, which is available in the Election Commission website, and the 2011 declaration put out in the PMO website.

Percentage wise, the highest increase has been for Jagathrakshakan whose assets have grown by 1,092 percent in the past two years. He is followed by Panabaka Lakshmi of Congress with a growth of 828 percent in her assets and Tusharbhai Chaudhary, also Congress, with a growth of 705 percent in his assets. As per the analysis, a minister in the present UPA government has assets worth over Rs 10 crore, marking an increase by Rs 3.3 crore since 2009.

"This is in spite of the fact that 19 ministers in their 2011 declarations to PMO have not given the value of several of their movable and immovable assets," said the report.

With assets worth 122 crores, Praful Patel tops the list of richest ministers, while Jagathrakshakan ranked second (with assets worth Rs 70 crore) and Kamal Nath (assets worth Rs 41 crore) is at the third place.

The report, however, said that 15 ministers have shown a decrease in their assets compared to that in 2009.

They include Corporate Affairs Minister M Veerappa Moily, Home Minister P Chidambaram, Petroleum Minister S Jaipal Reddy, Minister for New and Renewable Energy Farooq Abdullah, Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh and Foreign Minister SM Krishna.

PTI