New Delhi

New Delhi :A total of 140 out of the 241 members of the Rajya Sabha claim that they have no financial interests, despite owning assets running into crores of rupees, said an activist Thursday.Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has also declared no financial interests, but has assets worth more than Rs.4 crore.

”It is strange how one can have huge assets and no financial interests,” said Anil Bariwal, national coordinator of National Election Watch (NEW).

An analysis of data on MPs’ financial interests received from Rajya Sabha by NGOs NEW and Association for Democratic Research (ADR) showed a large number of them having share or control in private firms or enjoying financial gains from firms or other professions.

The activists, who got the data through right to information applications, said some of the MPs showed huge assets in their declaration to the Election Commission.

The financial interests declared by the MPs include income as directors of companies, controlling shares, regular salaries, paid consultancies and professional engagements.

The highest asset holder among those who said they had no financial interest is Congress’s T. Subbarami Reddy of Andhra pradesh, with total assets worth Rs.258 crore. He is followed by Congress’s Karan Singh, with assets worth Rs.57 crore. Bharatiya Janata Party’s M. Venkaiah Naidu holds assets worth Rs.7 crore.

Information and Broadcasting Minister Ambika Soni of the Congress also figures in the list of those who declared no financial or pecuniary interests. She declared assets worth Rs.17 crore.

The activists said that the data was given to them only after two and half years of applying for it. The information commission even issued notice to the Rajya Sabha secretariat directing it to give the details. For Lok Sabha, no such list of interest is maintained.

“Conflict of interest and money power is a deterrent for democracy, but the Indian parliament is lacking in transparency on the matter of financial interests of its members,” said Bariwal.

“We have written to Lok Sabha speaker to have a list of interests for the members, but we are still waiting for a response,” he said.

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