The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Crorepati surprises spring out of poll list

Mumbai, Sept. 23: Maha assets have fired up the battle for Maharashtra.

Crorepatis crowd the candidate list for the country's financial capital.

With the filing of nominations ending yesterday, the line-up for the Assembly elections is in place ' and so is the declaration of the candidates' assets. Some of the revelations are staggering, for different reasons.

At the head of the list towers Mumbai-based builder Vijay Sawant. He has declared himself to be worth Rs 206 crore, just Rs 7 crore short of Reliance's Anil Ambani's assets declared before he entered the Rajya Sabha.

Sawant, a Congressman who fights Shiv Sena giant and former chief minister Narayan Rane at Malwan in Sindhudurg district, has a stake in property worth Rs 225 crore in Raigad, land worth Rs 92 crore and 12 vehicles.

Sawant leaves Rane a couple of hundred crores behind in declared wealth ' the former chief minister says he is worth only Rs 7.5 crore. Rane admits to real estate belonging to him and his wife worth Rs 2.17 crore. Cars, investments, shares and bank deposits make up the rest of the Rs 7.5 crore.

The Congress-NCP combine wants a formidable presence against Rane, who is credited with building the Konkan area into a Sena base.

But there's no dearth of crorepatis. After Sawant comes Samajwadi Party candidate Ganesh Kumar Gupta, worth Rs 41 crore, contesting from Colaba, one of Mumbai's most affluent localities. Gupta has 97 life insurance policies with his family members.

Mangal Prabhat Lodha of the BJP, contesting from Malabar Hill, said to be Mumbai's most affluent area, is worth over Rs 8 crore.

Congressman Raj Shroff, chief minister Sushil Kumar Shinde's son-in-law who is also contesting the Malabar Hill seat, is again worth over Rs 8 crore.

Designer Shaina NC, contesting from Bandra on behalf of the BJP, is worth over Rs 3 crore. Real estate, jewellery, cars and investments make up her fortune.

But the real surprises are the names towards the bottom of the crorepati list. Despite the wealth one would imagine they possess, (alleged) gangsters and men who run the state profess to have very humble fortunes compared to the above.

Former underworld don Arun Gawli, contesting from Chinchpokli in south Mumbai, says he is worth Rs 1.86 crore. Iqbal Kaskar, Dawood Ibrahim's brother, whom Bombay High Court gave permission on Monday to file his nomination papers from behind bars, claims he is worth only a little above Rs 1 crore.

Another name lying at the bottom of the crore list' Chhagan Bhujbal.

Bhujbal, granted permission by Sharad Pawar to contest from Nashik and questioned in the fake stamp paper scam worth several thousand crores, admits to possessing little himself.

He confesses to bank deposits worth Rs 8 lakh, deposits with financial institutions worth Rs 18 lakh, 15 acres of agricultural land, a flat in Worli worth Rs 66 lakh, an office in Mazgaon, jewellery worth Rs 2.5 lakh and wife's jewellery worth Rs 3.3 lakh. Only.

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