Business Standard
Supratim Dey
Kolkata/ Guwahati

Arunachal Pradesh may be one of the poorest and underdeveloped states of India, but when it comes to wealth of the candidates, in the just-concluded assembly election, it is just a paradox. More than one third of the candidates in the assembly election were either billionaires or millionaires. Arunachal Pradesh went on polls yesterday to elect 57 candidates for its 60 member assembly. Three candidates had already won unopposed.

For the remote Arunachal Pradesh, where 80 per cent of the populace reside in the countryside bereft of even the basic amenities, this assembly election was more an election for the millionaires and billionaires to jostle for power.

Out of 157 contestants, one was a billionaire and 62 were millionaires, with Takam Tagar, the youngest candidate, topping the list with total assets more than Rs 229 crore, according to a report by National Election Watch, an umbrella group of around 1,200 NGOs working for electoral reforms. The chief minister, Dorjee Khandu, had bagged the third position with total assets worth Rs 22 crore. If pre-election affidavits are anything to go by, Khandu has become richer by almost Rs 19 crore since 2004. In 2004 election, Khandu had declared assets worth Rs 4,19,72,000, which has now increased to increased to Rs 22,96,59,000. Khandu has been the chief minister of the state since 2007.


However, the most profit-making MLA in terms of increased percentage of assets was Honchum Ngandam of Congress party, who re-contested from Pongchau-Wakka in Tirap.

Ngandam, who was one of the poorest candidates in 2004, with total declared assets of only Rs 30,000, has almost become a millionaire as his total assets stood at little below Rs 8 lakh this year, which was an increase of whopping 2,530 per cent.

But there are some twists. The former chief minister, Gegogn Apang, who has the distinction of being the second longest serving chief minster of any state, has become poorer by almost Rs 2 crore and has been pushed to 14th position in the assets list. In 2004, he topped the list of candidates with total assets little more than Rs 9 crore. But this year, according to the affidavit, he has Rs 2 crore lesser.

Among the parties, the congress topped the list with maximum number of millionaire candidates. More than 61 per cent of the total 60 Congress candidates are millionaires. Among other parties, the NCP had eight, followed by seven from the Trinamool Congress, six from the BJP, and one was an independent. Incidentally, all the great-gainer MLAs belonged to the ruling Congress except for Pingthika Namchoom, an Independent.

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