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May 4, 2024

Wealth and Diversity: 17 Millionaire Candidates Vie for Four Lok Sabha Seats in Odisha

The upcoming Lok Sabha elections in Odisha are witnessing a dynamic blend of wealth and diversity, with 17 millionaire candidates contesting for four parliamentary seats. According to a report by the Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR), out of the 37 candidates competing in the Nabarangpur, Berhampur, Koraput, and Kalahandi constituencies, a significant 46% are crorepatis.

Both the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Biju Janata Dal (BJD) fielded crorepatis as their candidates for the four Lok Sabha seats, reflecting the financial prowess within the political spectrum. Additionally, three Congress nominees, along with four independent candidates, one from Bharatiya Bikash Parishad, and another from Naba Bharata Nirmana Seva Party, have declared assets surpassing Rs 1 crore, as per the ADR report.

Leading the wealth chart is Malvika Devi, the BJP candidate for the Kalahandi Lok Sabha seat, with assets totaling Rs 41.89 crore. She is closely followed by independent candidate V Chandra Shekhar for the Berhampur constituency, with assets worth Rs 28.70 crore, and Rajendra Dalabehera, the Bharatiya Bikash Parishad nominee for Berhampur, with Rs 10.30 crore in assets.

Conversely, Pramila Pujari, the SUCI(C) candidate for the Koraput MP seat, is declared the poorest candidate, owning assets valued at only Rs 20,625. Notably, Pradeep Kumar Panigrahy, the BJP nominee for the Berhampur Lok Sabha constituency, carries the highest liabilities worth Rs 3.82 crore.

The diversity among the candidates is also reflected in their educational qualifications. A significant 38% of candidates have passed between class 5 and 12, while 59% are graduates. Remarkably, one candidate declares themselves as only literate.

Female representation remains modest, with only seven out of 37 candidates being women. The age demographics present an interesting mix, with 27% of candidates falling between 25 to 40 years, 62% in the age group of 41 to 60 years, and 11% aged between 61 and 70 years.

However, amidst the wealth and diversity, there’s a shadow of concern. Seven candidates, comprising 19% of the total, have declared criminal cases pending against them, indicating potential challenges to their candidature.

The presence of millionaire candidates raises questions about wealth distribution and its impact on political representation. While financial resources can support campaigns and infrastructure development, it’s crucial that the elected representatives reflect the socio-economic diversity of their constituencies.

As voters head to the polls on May 13, they have the opportunity to weigh not only the wealth but also the credentials and commitments of the candidates. The elections will not only determine the political landscape of Odisha but also serve as a reflection of the state’s aspirations for inclusive governance.

Jhumpa Lahiri

Jhumpa Lahiri

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