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Our rulers aren’t poor at all

Quite a few ministers in the Narendra Modi government possess guns and rifles, shows their assets declaration, posted on the website of the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO).

Home Minister Rajnath Singh has declared a .32 bore revolver and two guns valued at Rs 10,000 each; his total assets are Rs 2.56 crore. Others with similar weapons include former army chief V K Singh, who’s now minister for development of the northeast region, Railways Minister Sadananda Gowda and T C Gehlot, minister for social justice and empowerment.

Singh and his wife own a rifle, a pistol and two guns, estimated at a total of Rs 3 lakh. Gowda’s armoury includes a .32 revolver purchased in 2002 and an SPBL gun acquired in 1989, valued at Rs 65,000. Gehlot has a .32 bore revolver and a .315 gun, valued together at Rs 83,000.

As for other assets, petrol pumps figure in the list of many ministers’ declarations. For instance, consumer affairs and food minister Ram Vilas Paswan’s wife, Reena Paswan, has a petrol pump in Delhi’s Vasant Kunj area but its value has not been given. Gehlot has declared a petrol pump acquired in 1999 for Rs 20 lakh; its current value is estimated at Rs 1.46 crore.

Women and child affairs minister Maneka Gandhi is among the ministers with many commercial properties across the most expensive locations in the capital, such as Khan Market and Vasant Vihar, as well as in Gurgaon, valued at Rs 6.95 crore. Her Jor Bagh residence is priced at Rs 18 crore, by current market value. The spouses of ministers shown as having business interests include Zubin Irani, husband of human resources development minister Smriti Irani, and Sukhbir Singh Badal, married to food processing minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal. Irani has business interests in water solutions, fire safety measures, pollution control and agriculture. Badal’s commercial ownership ranges across Punjab.

Several ministers have invested in company shares, bonds and debentures. Finance and defence minister Arun Jaitley, whose assets are the highest in this cabinet at Rs 72.10 crore, has company deposits of around Rs 17 crore in Enpro Oils and DCM Shriram. Information technology and telecom minister Ravi Shankar Prasad owns bonds and shares in HSBC Alpha, ICICI Prudential. Reliance Advantage, Reliance Mutual Fund, Religare Inveso, Tata Steel, etc. Roads and shipping minister Nitin Gadkari has investments in Purti Power & Sugar, Purti Agrotech, Vidarbha Realtors, Yash Agroenergy, Cenin Tours and Travels, among others. Civil aviation minister Ashok Gajapati Raju holds shares and mutual funds in Infosys, Zee Entertainment, MCX, Cairn India and Balaji Telefilms, among others.

Those with no declaration on investments in companies include commerce and industry minister Nirmala Sitharaman, health minister Harsh Vardhan, chemicals and fertiliser minister Ananth Kumar, heavy industries minister Anant Geete, steel & mines minister Narendra Singh Tomar and railways minister Sadananda Gowda.

The list of vehicle and household goods has an interesting mix. Jaitley’s tops the list of fancy cars such as Mercedes, BMW, Porsche, Toyota Fortuner and Honda Accord. The more adventurous and perhaps humbler mobike also finds a mention. Gehlot has listed a Stunner mobike acquired in 2012 for Rs 57,914, a motorcycle of 2011 make for Rs 53,540 and a Honda Activa Scooty bought this year for Rs 52,000. Sitharaman has declared a Bajaj Chetak acquired in 2001 for Rs 28,200.

Many have declared trucks and jeeps as their possessions. Gehlot has a tanker lorry.

The household goods declared vary from mobile phones, computers and laptops to fridges, air-conditioners and sofa sets.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has declared total assets of Rs 1.26 crore, while not listing any vehicle or household goods. While Jaitley is on top, external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj is at Rs 2.73 crore (besides agriculture land), Rajnath Singh at Rs 2.56 crore, Ravi Shankar Prasad at Rs 14.91 crore, Nitin Gadkari at Rs 3.34 crore, Maneka Gandhi at Rs 37.68 crore, Piyush Goyal at Rs 31.67 crore and Najma Heptullah at Rs 29.70 crore.

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