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The Rediff Election Special / G Vinayak in Guwahati
This candidate is worth Rs 9,000 cr!
April 20, 2004
He should be, by far, the richest candidate in India contesting the Lok Sabha election, if you believe the affidavit submitted to the Deputy Commissioner, Dimapur in Nagaland.
N Nimthungo of the little known Labour Party in Nagaland says he owns 15 sq km, that's right 15 sq km, of land in his native village of Huksatso in the state's Phek district. The value of the land: Rs 9,000 crore!
But there is a twist in the tale. In Nagaland, as in some other states of the north-east, the land is the property of the community or clan. Nimthangu's land is also owned by the village collectively, but when he was asked to fill up the relevant column in the affidavit, Nimthangu, an agriculture graduate from Maharashtra, said the 15 sq km land belonged to him.
When the returning officer asked him the value of the land, the Labour Party candidate did not know it. The RO, who hails from Lucknow, then apparently calculated the value of the land at the prevailing rate in the Uttar Pradesh capital and arrived at the figure of Rs 9,000 crore!
Neither Nimthangu nor the RO were immediately available for comment, but sources in Nagaland said the Labour Party candidate is nowhere in the race for the lone Lok Sabha seat in the state.
Nimthangu's claim may be absurd, but other serious candidates from established parties are seriously rich. Take the Congress' lottery baron, Mani Kumar Subba, in the race for the Tezpur seat in Assam for the third time. His list: diamonds and gold ornaments he owns: Rs 7 lakh; the value of jewellery owned by his first wife: Rs 56,14,032; gold ornaments owned by second wife: Rs 140,000.
Subba also owns four plots of land in New Delhi and Tezpur and buildings in New Delhi, Tinsukia, Lakhimpur, Jalpaiguri, Guwahati, Darjeeling and Tezpur!
The Bharatiya Janata Party's Bhupen Hazarika, who is contesting the Guwahati Lok Sabha seat, says he has 50 percent ownership of land in Lonavla valued at Rs 250,000; 50 percent ownership rights on a godown in Mumbai valued at Rs 10 lakh, 50 per cent ownership rights on a residence-cum-office at Golf Course Road, Kolkata, valued at Rs 6 lakh and 50 per cent ownership right on another office-cum-residence at Lokhandwala Complex in northwest Mumbai valued at Rs 14 lakh. He, however, does not mention who owns the other 50 percent.
Hazarika also has deposits worth Rs 6 lakh in various banks and shares worth Rs 420,025.