Shillong: Altogether 113 candidates of the total 341 candidates in fray for the February 23 Assembly elections in Meghalaya have property worth over Rs one crore, according to an working for electoral reforms. The ruling Congress fielded 35 crorepati candidates including four women, second only to the 38 others who joined the 2013 poll battle as independents, said the Meghalaya Election Watch (MEW).
Congress' ally, the United Democratic Party (UDP), have 23 crorepati candidates while 17 others belonged to the Opposition NPP, HSPDP, SP, NCP and the BJP, the MEW said.
Congress' Ngaitlang Dhar, contesting from Umroi seat, is the richest with assets of over Rs 235 crore, followed by Jropsing Nongkhlaw (Congress, Shella seat) and Metbah Lyngdoh (UDP, Mairang) with assets worth over Rs 52 crore and over Rs 37 crore respectively. Dhar also carries with him a tag of having criminal cases along with 13 other candidates, two each of whom are candidates of the Congress and the UDP.
Congress MLA, Founder S Cajee, who assaulted a photo journalist in the Assembly premises last year, however, was not in that list of 13, the NGO said Chief Minister Mukul Sangma and his wife Dickanchi D Shira, who is joining electoral politics this year for the first time, have declared joint assets worth over Rs 28 crore.
Assembly Speaker Charles Pyngrope have added over Rs three crore in the past five years as his assets increased from Rs 3.77 crore in 2008 to Rs 6.94 crore this year. Ten women candidates, including the chief minister's wife, were crorepatis. Four belonged to the Congress. The lone woman legislator in the state who was also in the cabinet, Ampareen Lyngdoh's assets increased from Rs 23,518 in 2008 to Rs 21 lakh this year, an increase of over 9000 per cent in a period of five years.
Of the candidates, nine were PhD degree holders, 23 candidates are under matriculation while eight candidates are over 70 years of age, the MEW said.