Umamaheswara Rao

Andhra Pradesh MLAs rank second in wealth among all states, with an average of Rs 28.2 crore in assets. Reports show a sevenfold increase in average assets from 2009 to 2019. Concerns arise about the impact of increasing wealth on the democratic process.

The sitting MLAs of Andhra Pradesh rank second among their counterparts in all states in terms of wealth, with an average of Rs 28.2 crore in assets, behind only Karnataka (Rs 64.4 crore average assets per MLA). Maharashtra's MLAs come in third place with an average of Rs 23.5 crore. AP's numbers are almost double the national average of assets per MLA (Rs 13.63 crore).

The assets of MLAs elected in 2009 in Andhra Pradesh averaged about Rs 3.8 crore.

According to different reports prepared by the Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) and the National Election Watch (NEW), the average assets of sitting MLAs in Andhra Pradesh increased sevenfold between the 2009 and 2019 elections, from Rs 3.8 crore in 2009 to Rs 28.2 crore in 2019.

Interestingly, TDP president and former chief minister N Chandrababu Naidu and current Andhra Pradesh CM YS Jagan Mohan Reddy rank among the wealthiest MLAs in the country. According to the affidavits submitted during the 2019 elections, Naidu, along with his family, declared assets worth Rs 668 crore, placing him fourth nationwide. Jagan's assets (including family members) stand at Rs 510 crore, ranking him seventh among all MLAs in the country.

The ADR and NEW report prepared for the sitting MLAs for all the 28 state assemblies and two Union Territories in 2023 showed Andhra Pradesh has 10 billionaire MLAs, ranking third among all states. Karnataka (32 (14%) out of 223 MLAs), and Arunachal Pradesh (4 (7%) out of 59 MLAs) occupied the first two places.

As many as 163 sitting MLAs in AP are crorepatis

Speaking to TOI, a faculty in the political sciences department of Andhra University, Dr V Hari Babu, said that the political dynamics in Andhra Pradesh have gradually changed over the last three to four decades, with financial affluence becoming a more important factor for candidates. "Even political parties are now more likely to encourage wealthy individuals to contest elections, rather than choosing candidates based on their party work or public service. This trend may worsen in the coming decades. But this would have its ultimate negative impact on election outcomes," said Dr Hari Babu.

K Venkata Ramana, a political analyst from Visakhapatnam, said that the increasing money flow may ultimately undermine the democratic process. "Voices of ordinary citizens may be drowned out in this process. As every election is becoming a do or die battle for the regional parties, they are increasingly inclining towards crorepatis," Ramana added.

The assets of Chandrababu Naidu increased by 277% between 2014 and 2019, from ₹177 crore to ₹668 crore. Jagan reported a 22% increase in assets during this time, from ₹416 crore to ₹510 crore. Minister Peddireddy Ramachandra Reddy recorded a 107% increase in assets.

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