Trouble brews for BJP’s TVM candidate Rajeev Chandrasekhar: What's the row about?

The Congress has alleged that Rajeev Chandrasekhar in his election affidavit, failed to mention all of his properties, such as houses, luxury cars and private jets.
Rajeev Chandrasekhar
Rajeev Chandrasekhar
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Just weeks before the Lok Sabha elections in Kerala, Union Minister and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) candidate Rajeev Chandrasekhar has found himself on a sticky wicket after the Election Commission of India sought verification of Congress’ allegations that he did not disclose complete details of his financial assets in his affidavits. The Union Minister had submitted that his income in 2021-22 was a mere Rs 680. 

As per the complainants– Supreme Court lawyer Avani Bansal and Bengaluru resident Renjith Thomas– Chandrasekhar declared assets to a tune of Rs 25 crore and Rs 37 crore for the Rajya Sabha elections in 2006 and 2012 respectively. According to reports, when he secured a Rajya Sabha seat in 2018 from Karnataka, he had declared assets worth Rs 65 crore. Congress had alleged that all of the affidavits were concealing the exact figures. However, their complaints were not resolved by the ECI. 

On April 9, the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) was directed to verify the allegations and probe if there is a mismatch between actual and declared assets, and income in the affidavits filed by Rajeev Chandrasekhar for the 2024 Lok Sabha elections. The Congress alleged that misleading values of assets, investments and income, was a violation of the Representation of the People Act, 1951, and the Indian Penal Code. According to the Representation of the People Act, candidates concealing information in nomination papers or affidavits could get a six-month jail term along with a fine.

The Congress has alleged that Rajeev Chandrasekhar failed to mention all of his properties, such as houses, luxury cars and private jets. 

In moveable properties, Chandrasekhar has listed a vintage motorcycle, a 1942 Red Indian Scout, worth around Rs 3.25 crore. The only immovable asset he has declared was a plot of non-agricultural land in Karnataka’s Bengaluru valued at an estimated Rs 14.4 crore. “He has not declared two of his properties worth hundreds of crores of rupees in the posh neighbourhood of Koramangala 3rd Block in Bengaluru. He has shown the property as his residing address though,” Congress said. 

The Congress further said that while Rajeev submitted that the combined book value of his four holding companies in Jupiter Capital was Rs 6.38 crore, the Union government’s data (Ministry of Corporate Affairs filings by the companies) shows that the value was at 1.6 lakh crores. “Jupiter Global (one of Rajeev’s holding companies) has Rs 340 crore worth of holding of Jupiter Capital, and he has declared only 22,260 rupees. The face value is 92.2 lakhs,” Congress added. The Communist Party of India (Marxist) had also petitioned the ECI against Rajeev Chandrashekar alleging irregularities. 

The Supreme Court on April 9, while hearing a different petition related to non-disclosure of details in an election affidavit, had observed that it was not necessary for a candidate to declare every item of movable property that he and his family own unless the item was a sizeable asset which would reflect upon his lifestyle, and needs to be disclosed.

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