Himachal Pradesh elections this year isn’t in talks for the most number of candidates fighting election alone, but also for the number of crorepatis in them. According to affidavits filled by these candidates for their nomination (declaring their assets) to the election commission, about 33 per cent of the 445 of them are crorepatis.

The richest is Brij Behari Lal Butail, Congress candidate from Palampur with Rs. 169.21 crore. Whereas, independent candidate from Chopal Balbir Singh Verma comes second with Rs 41 crore, and Ram Kumar, Congress, from Doon constituency comes third with assets worth Rs 36 crore.

However on the other side Om Prakash of Himachal Swabhiman Party (HSP) from Baijnath constituency is on the lowest side as he declared assets are worth Rs 2,000, followed by Rama Mahendra of HSP from Palampur with assets worth Rs 10,000 and Shiv Kumar of Samajwadi Party from Sarkaghat constituency with assets worth Rs 10,000.

Though, 79 candidates, including Vijay Jayoti, (Independent from Kasumpti Constituency), Tikender Panwar (CPM) from Shimla constituency and Vijay Kumar (SP) from Nahan constituency have not declared their details. On the education front, 56 per cent candidates (248 of 445 analysed) were graduates and above.

Other details analysed by National Election Watch (NEW) include education qualifications, gender and age. At least 56 per cent are qualified as graduates or above. The list also displays a strong gender bias, with only six per cent candidates being women. Out of 445 candidates, 42 are above the age of 65 years.

The average growth in the assets of candidates that are recontesting is 122 per cent. There are 112 such candidates.

The highest percentage increase (7,463 per cent) in assets has been declared by Bumber Thakur, the Congress candidate from Bilaspur. His assets have gone up from Rs 135,000 five years ago to Rs 1.02 crore.

Among sitting legislators, Subhash Chand Manglet, the Congress legislator from Chopal, has declared the highest percentage increase in assets, 3,621 per cent from around Rs 20 lakh to over Rs 7.2 crore.

Sanjay Kumar a Bahujan Samaj Party legislator from Kangra has shown a 1,959-per cent jump, while the BJP’s Rajiv Sahjal has declared a rise of 1,936 per cent.

However, four MLAs have reported a decrease in assets.

In the last Assembly elections in 2007, there were only 16 per cent ‘crorepati’ candidates.