Sunday, May 19, 2024

‘Poor’ billionaires


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In all fairness, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi has admitted that he’s not poor. Considering the tendency among politicians to present a common man’s image even as they have funnelled millions or billions into tax havens or invested in benami properties, Rahul Gandhi’s election affidavit for the Wayanad Lok Sabha polls shows he was having a cash stock of less than 60,000 and assets of around eight crore. It sums up to him being a middle-class citizen in terms of wealth. His earnings last year were in the range of about `10 lakh a month, including what he got in wages as an MP and from his modest investments. All of what he stated are’ true’, it must be affirmed, with a rider that it is impossible to assess the real wealth of Indians today. What they show is generally far from truth, be it in the case of well-heeled politicians, bureaucrats or businessmen, also as the taxation system here is rigid. At the same time, the system also provides sufficient loopholes to the high and mighty to stockpile their wealth in shady holes.
By all means, Prime Minister Narendra Modi is closer to a commoner when it comes to his recorded wealth, a couple of crores, and nothing yet goes to show he has hidden wealth. But, this too is debatable, indeed. The ways of the world are far removed from what one sees on the surface. It is commonly reckoned that Modi, who is not a family man, is mostly, if not exclusively, after power and positions. This was amply proven in the last over 20 years. It is not his money but his tongue power that wins him votes. But, several top politicians who deal in billions are fancying themselves as middle class when it comes to recording their wealth in the election affidavits. The name of the game, often, is to park the wealth in the name of their near and dear ones or dump huge sums in real estate where the recorded price is, say, 10 times less than the market value. Ultimately, this is all a drama.
Fact of the matter is that aspirants in elections in some states are paying crores to major parties, mainly of the regional satraps, to win a party ticket for a parliament seat. Yet, they have the gumption to show their total wealth as a couple of crores. They hoodwink the public and skirt the provisions of the system through deceit. They get away with their act. It is also not easy to assess the wealth of the Nehru-Sonia Gandhi clan in real terms. Records are not the last word.


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