While West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee may claim her Trinamool Congress to be the party of the poor, more than half of the members of her 42-strong ministry are ‘crorepatis’ (multimillionaires) with Rs 3.3 crore being the average assets. According to data made public by Association for Democratic Reforms and its local chapter West Bengal Election Watch, as many as 24 ministers (57 percent) are crorepatis. Minister of State for Labour Jakir Hossain with assets worth over Rs 28 crore, tops the list followed by Disaster Management Minister Javed Khan who possesses assets exceeding Rs 17 crore. State Finance and Commerce Minister Amit Mitra, with properties in excess of Rs. 11 crore, is third in the list.
The report also reveals that more than half of the elected MLAs in the 294 member assembly did not exceed 50 percent of expenditure fixed for poll campaign in their constituency. “Based on the election expense declarations of all 294 MLAs analysed from the 2016 West Bengal Assembly elections to the CEO, 162 MLAs (55 percent of the total MLAs) have declared election expenses of less than 50 percent of the expense limit in their constituency,” said the report. While expenditure limit for the candidates was Rs 28 lakh, the average amount spent by them was only about Rs 13.39 lakh or 48 percent of the stipulated limit. The maximum expense of Rs 25.52 lakh was declared by Apurba Sarkar of the Congress from Kandi constituency, while CPI-M’s Jahanara Khan of from Jamuria constituency with Rs 3.25 lakh declared spent the least.
The report also reveals that nine of the ministers have declared criminal cases against them with seven of them facing serious charges including attempt to murder and kidnapping. Labour Minister Moloy Ghatak has the most number of cases (six) including one of theft, pending against him.