Free Press Journal

On Wednesday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi made a major rijig to induct 36 new faces into his Council of Ministers, taking the tally to 78. The limit stands at 81. Of these 78, however, as many as 33 ministers (42%) have criminal cases against them. Of these, 24 have serious ones related to murder, attempt to murder and robbery, a report published by poll rights group Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) stated.

ADR cited election affidavits to highlight the cases against the ministers.

Also, in its analysis, ADR found that around 90% members of the new Union cabinet (70 ministers) are millionaires, meaning that they have declared total assets amounting to over Rs1 crore.

Four ministers — Jyotiraditya Scindia (over Rs379 crore), Piyush Goyal (over Rs95 crore), Narayan Rane (over Rs87 crore), and Rajeev Chandrasekhar (over Rs64 crore) — have been categorised as “high asset ministers”, which means they have declared assets worth more than Rs50 crore.

The proportion of Union ministers who have declared criminal cases against them has risen by 3 percentage points after the expansion. Analysis by ADR in 2019, when the first cabinet was sworn in, showed that 39% of the 56 ministers then had declared criminal cases against themselves. In that cabinet too, an overwhelming majority (91%) were crorepatis.

The average worth of assets per minister has been found to be around Rs16.24 crore, the report noted. The cabinet ministers who have the least amount of assets are: Pratima Bhoumik from Tripura (around Rs6 lakh), John Barla from West Bengal (around Rs14 lakh), Kailash Choudhary from Rajasthan (around Rs24 lakh), Bishweswar Tudu from Odisha (around Rs27 lakh), and V Muraleedharan from Maharashtra (around Rs27 lakh).

Analysing the educational qualification of the new ministers, the report stated a majority of them (21) are post-graduates. Nine ministers have a doctorate, while 17 each are graduates and professional graduates. Two ministers have only passed their Class VIII exams, three Class X and seven others Class XII.

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