What does data relating to wealth of those elected to the Uttar Pradesh (UP) Legislative Assembly in 2017 tell us?
One, the overall numbers of those who have declared assets more than Rs 1 crore has gone up considerably. As three-quarters of the members are from the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the average BJP MLA who contested had a higher average per capita level of wealth than MLAs from other parties.
Also, for all the pre-election campaign talk of standing with the poor, the average BJP MLA is wealthier than colleagues in other parties. On January 8, addressing party colleagues, Prime Minister (PM) Narendra Modi said: “For us, poor and poverty are not only about winning elections; we do not look at them only through the lens of vote-bank politics.
This is our opportunity to serve because serving the poor is equivalent to serving the Lord. I was born into poverty and have lived it. Do not be scared of any criticism or accusations. Our inner conviction will see us through.”
In March, addressing a rally in Rohaniya near Varanasi, the PM amplified his view. He said the country’s economy heavily depended on the betterment of farmers and improvement in their purchasing power, and that he was committed to measures to ensure the incomes of those involved in agriculture doubled by 2022. He also spoke about a scheme whereby 50 million poor families were to be given free gas connections by 2019.