In affidavits, political leaders declare their gold, minus all its glitter


The love of Indians for gold and silver is legendary and Indian politicians are no exception to this fondness for precious metals.

But unlike most Indians who are known to flaunt their jewellery, political leaders prefer to remain modest about their glitter. Or at least that is the message they seem keen to send when they declare the gold and silver they own in their election affidavits.

The Indian Express study of affidavits submitted by prominent leaders over the last decade has found that many among them are vague about the amount of jewellery they own.

Unlike immovable property, valuing gold and silver is relatively easy as their prices can be easily accessed at any given time. But that does not seem to deter many leaders from undervaluing their jewellery or assigning arbitrary values to them.

The following are some leading examples:

RAHUL GANDHI: The Amethi MP and now Congress vice-president declared that his 333 gm of jewellery was worth Rs 1.25 lakh both in 2004 and 2009 "as per wealth return".

SONIA GANDHI: The UPA chairperson declared she owned 2,518.45 gm gold jewellery and said it was valued at Rs 11.08 lakh in 2009, translating to a rate of Rs 4,500 per 10 gm. However, gold prices in the last quarter of 2008 and first quarter of 2009, before the Lok Sabha elections, were in the range of Rs 13,000 to Rs 15,000. Her declaration said the value was as on March 31, 2008. But even on that day gold prices were much higher than what Sonia declared.

SUSHMA SWARAJ: The BJP leader declared in 2009 she owned 2,005 gm of gold but did not mention its worth. Ditto for the 6 kg silver she said she owned.

L K ADVANI: The veteran BJP leader's wife, it was declared in 2009, owned 1,341.67 gm of jewellery worth Rs 16 lakh but it was not mentioned if all of this was gold or included silver. If it was indeed gold, then it was valued at around Rs 12,000 per 10 gm, which was lower than the market rate.

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