New Delhi

New Delhi: The assets of at least three of India’s federal ministers have increased since they assumed office five months ago, a joint statement by the National Election Watch and Association of Democratic Reforms said on Friday.

Railway Minister D.V. Sadananda Gowda has recorded the highest increase in assets during the five-month period.

“His assets have shown an increase of Rs104.6 million [6.28 million], from Rs98.8 million as declared in Lok Sabha 2014 elections to Rs203.5 million in the 2014 declarations of the Union Council of Ministers to the PMO,” the statement said.

Minister of State for Heavy Industries and Public Enterprises Radhakrishnan P. was a distant second. His assets showed an increase of Rs29.8 million, while Finance Minister Arun Jaitley’s assets rose by Rs10.1 million.

The watchdogs said 41 of the federal ministers, or 91 per cent of the cabinet, are multi-millionaires as per their declarations to the Prime Minister’s Office.

Jaitley was the richest at Rs1.14 billion, followed by Harsimrat Kaur Badal at Rs1.08 billion and Piyush Goyal at Rs946.6 million.

The statement said that 16 ministers have shown a decrease in assets.

“External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj showed a decrease of Rs38.9 million [from Rs175.5 million declared in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections]. She is followed by Minister of State for Development of North Eastern Region V.K. Singh who declared a decrease of Rs31.3 million. He is followed by Health Minister Harsh Vardhan who declared a decrease of Rs12.8 million,” the statement said.

The statement said that, upon analysis, it was found that the cause of changes in assets was largely due to the lack of any standardised format for ministers’ asset declarations.

“Many ministers have not given the value of many assets declared. Not declaring the value of assets in the ministers’ declaration is akin to not making a disclosure at all,” the statement said.

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