New Delhi: The assets of at least three union ministers have increased by more than Rs.1 crore since assuming office, the National Election Watch and Association of Democratic Reforms said in a joint statement Friday.
"Among the ministers who contested the 2014 Lok Sabha election, the highest increase in assets in five months has been shown by Minister of Railways D.V. Sadananda Gowda. His assets have shown an increase of Rs.10.46 crore (from Rs. 9.88 crore as declared in Lok Sabha 2014 election to Rs.20.35 crore in the 2014 declarations of the Union Council of Ministers to the PMO)," the statement said.
It further said that Gowda is followed by Minister of State for Heavy Industries and Public Enterprises Radhakrishnan P who has shown an increase of Rs.2.98 crore and Finance Minister Arun Jaitley who showed an increase of Rs.1.01 crore.
Further, 41 ministers or 91 percent of the council of ministers, are crorepatis based on their declarations to the Prime Minister's Office.
The highest assets have been declared by Jaitley at Rs. 114.03 crore, followed by Harsimrat Kaur Badal (Rs.108.31 crore) and Piyush Goyal (Rs. 94.66 crore).
The average assets of ministers according to their declarations on the PMO website is Rs.14.32 crore.
ADR and NEW had in their analysis considered the election affidavits of union ministers for the 2014 Lok Sabha election and compared it with their asset declarations on the PMO's website Oct 10, for the comparison in terms of increase or decrease in wealth.
The statement said that 16 ministers have shown a decrease in assets.
"The highest decrease has been shown by External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj who showed a decrease of Rs.3.89 crore (from Rs.17.55 crore declared in the 2014 Lok Sabha election). She is followed by Minister of State for Development of North Eastern Region V.K. Singh who declared a decrease of Rs.3.13 crore (from 4.11 crore declared in the 2014 Lok Sabha election). He is followed by Health Minister Harsh Vardhan who declared a decrease of Rs.1.28 crore," the statement said.
The statement added that upon analysis it was found that the cause of changes in assets for many ministers is largely due to the lack of any standardised format for ministers' asset declarations.
"Many ministers have not given the value for 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.
It recommended that asset declarations should be made in a standard format, preferably in the format of the election affidavit.
It further observed that even though the election code of conduct stated clearly that the asset disclosures should also be accompanied by the business interests, none of the ministers have declared any financial/pecuniary interest in their declarations.
"The format for declarations should make it mandatory for the ministers to also disclose their business interests along with the asset details," ADR and NEW said.