Gone are the days when the only Maharajas were moneyed. The affidavits filed by the politicians contesting Lok Sabha polls suggest that it is evenly distributed within the political class now, reports Masood Hussain
After fleeing from Kashmir on October 26, 1947, Jammu’s Maharaja family could not retain the status even though it remained in politics throughout. While Hari Singh left for Mumbai, it was Dr Karan Singh who took over as the Sadr-e-Reyasat of the Jammu and Kashmir, a position he held till May 1967. Later, Congress took him to the centre where he was a minister for many decades and later was sent as ambassador to the USA.
While he continued with Congress, his sons started having their own ambitions. In 1996, assembly elections, his younger son Ajatshatru Singh joined NC, won from Nagrota and became the tourism minister. He was a member of the legislative council, a position he quit from, to join the BJP on November 19, 2014.
A few months earlier, Ajatshatru’s younger brother, Vikramadatiya Singh, joined PDP in August 2014. He was elected to the state legislative council but seeing not much of the future, he quit the party and joined his father’s Congress party.
The family once had Kashmir as part of their family possession. Gulab Singh, who is seen as the founder of the Jammu and Kashmir state, had purchased Kashmir from the East India Company in March 1846 after the Lahore’s Sikh durbar failed to pay the indemnity to the British after they lost a war.
Gulab Singh, despite being the ally of the durbar, paid Rs 75 lakh (Nanakshahi) and took over the possession of Kashmir. It remained with them for 101 years and they lost their control after tribal’s raided Kashmir in October 1947.
Almost seventy years later, one of the great-grandsons of the Maharajas’ family is contesting Lok Sabha polls – Vikramadatiya Singh is contesting the Udhampur seat in the Lok Sabha polls on Congress mandate and is pitted against Dr Jitendra Singh, an MoS in the PMO. His son Martand Singh also filed his papers as a covering candidate to his father.
A family that once was in possession of Kashmir was the wealthiest of the families in India. What is left now after more than 70 years? The affidavits that Singh and his son filed, as part of their nomination process, offers some idea about the wealth they possess. The affidavits, however, are voluntary disclosures of the possessions and usually lack any scrutiny.
The affidavits suggest that the family fortunes are still in control of Dr Karan Singh. Seemingly, the disclosed assets are not symbolic of the family’s rich history.
In the affidavit, Vikramdatiya Singh has said that he and his wife have only Rs 8 lakh in hand but their movable assets, are at Rs 11.41 crore and Rs 7.46 crore, respectively. Vikramadatiya’s wife Chitrangda Raje Singh is the daughter of Congress’s Gawailior leader Madhavrao Scindia. In December 1987, when the couple married, the ceremonies turned out to be a “pageant that turned the town upside down for two days.”
The baraat of 113 men was carried from Jammu in two reserved carriages – Madhavrao Scinda, the father of the bride was the Railways Minister, as a 35-car cavalcade drove them to Usha Kiron Palace Hotel’s luxurious suites, according to India Today.
Almost 50,000 commoners watched the ceremony.
“At 6.30 p.m., the baraat arrives led by an auspicious elephant painted a deep blue. The groom, his father, the former maharaja of Jaipur, and Farooq Abdullah arrive in two carriages drawn by white horses, while a band plays mera mehboob aya hai. The crowds cheer wildly,” the magazine reported from Gwalior. There was 21-gun salute and 2500 VVIPs invited. “And five lakh cheering people fill the streets, to bless the couple as they ride in a flower-bedecked open jeep with a 31-car cavalcade along an 8-km route to the Gorki temple to offer puja. Socialist India appeared to be paying an uncanny tribute to ex-India.”
But the affidavit does not give the same feeling as the marriage ceremony reported by Inderjit Badhwar in 1987. Their son Maratand has stated his movable assets at Rs 67.93 lakhs.
The couple and their son have a fleet of cars. It includes two Toyota Fortuners, an Audi Q7, A BMW – X5, a Maruti Suzuki, three Mahindra Scorpio, a Ford Endeavour, an EECO, a Triumph T, an Isuzu V Cross and a Royal Enfield. The entire fleet values at around Rs 2.85 crore.
Singh, in his affidavit, has also stated that his immovable assets are at Rs 10.50 crore and that of his wife at Rs 5.38 crore. Their son, Martand has immovable assets worth Rs 59 lakhs. This all makes the three-member family the proud owners of assets worth Rs 36 crore, not huge by the standards the dynasty lived for more than a century.
Earlier, Mrs and Dr Karan Singh had disclosed their assets at Rs 578919539. In 2008, more than a decade back, Ajatshatru had declared his assets to be worth Rs 22.24 crore.
The family has made impressive investments in the capital market, and they are holding good equities from a diverse basket of business ventures. They are also in business. Dr Singh’s younger son has converted his grandfather’s palace into a hotel. Dr Karan Singh has converted one of the family palaces into a museum that has more than 25000 books and rare artefacts.
Dr Jitedra Singh, the BJP candidates who want to retain Udhampur, is not a poor man. A doctor by profession who spent the last five years in the PMO has a working wife. In the affidavit, he has declared that the couple has Rs 2.42 crore as their immovable assets, mostly in FDRs. They have almost 100 gms of gold and three cars – a Maruti, a Ford and an Aveo. Dr Singh’s immovable assets are at Rs 4.02 crore and that of wife at Rs 63.20 lakh.
They have a former minister Choudhary Lal Singh contesting from Udhampur as well as Jammu. Lal Singh was basically from Congress and was in the Lok Sabha for two terms. He later joined BJP in anticipation of 2014 and won a seat. In wake of Kathua rape and murder, Singh was sacked and he rebelled against the party and is now contesting for his own party Dogra Swabhiman Party.
According to the affidavit that Singh submitted, he and his wife jointly have Rs 76.55 lakh as their movable assets. It includes 750 grams of gold. They do not own any vehicle at all. The couple’s immovable assets are worth Rs 1.20 crore.
But the Lok Sabah election has Kashmir’s post-partition rulers in the contest as well. Dr Farooq Abdullah, who is contesting from Srinagar to retain his berth, is a four-time Chief Minister of the state.
Dr Abdullah’s hand-written affidavit suggests that most of his earnings are in the saving bank accounts or in FDRs. In seven bank accounts, Dr Farooq has Rs 15004435. He has mentioned that a case of criminal conspiracy in the misappropriation of Jammu and Kashmir Cricket Association (JKCA) funds is pending against him before the court of Chief Judicial Magistrate Srinagar. The case was investigated by the CBI.
Dr Farooq owns two cars – a Grand Vitara and a Scorpio, worth eight lakh rupees. He has put his cumulative movable assets at Rs 1.59 crore. In his immovable assets are 9.3 Kanals of land at Khalmula. In Ganderbal and Nandpora in Srinagar, he owns land worth two crore rupees. Besides, he also owns 1.8 Kanals of commercial land at Soura that values Rs 60 lakhs. He also owns one-third of the Dhananji Building at Sonawar valuing Rs 2.80 crore. This is in addition to his homes at Gupkar and Jammu which values more than Rs 4.50 crore at current valuation. Dr Farooq has put his entire immovable property at a value of Rs 10.60 crore, which makes his entire worth at around Rs 12 crore plus. In 2014 assembly polls, his only son, Omar Abdullah declared his assets at around Rs 65.69 lakh.
Mehbooba Mufti is the other former Chief Minister in the contest. She is contesting from south Kashmir Anantnag, a seat she had won twice in her political career.
In the affidavit, she has declared that she has immovable assets worth Rs 34.03 lakh of which she has only Rs 10,000 in hand; rest is in saving bank accounts. She owns a kanal of land in Bejbehara and a residential structure, both valuing Rs 55 lakh. She does not own any car and has no jewellery, according to the affidavit.
This makes her poorer than the state Congress Chief Ghulam Ahmad Mir, who is pitted against her, in Anantnag. Mrs and Mr Mir have only Rs 1.5 lakh in hand but they have Rs 1.36 crore in their bank accounts. Apart from a jeep, Mir owns gold ornaments worth Rs 13.20 lakh and his wife has 1320 grams of gold jewellery that values Rs 39.60 lakh.
Mir owns 25 kanals of land at Damhall, 13600 sq ft non-agriculture land at Breiun, Srinagar, one fourth and a half share in two petrol pumps, one each in Anantnag and Jammu, one-third of a house in Damhal, a house in Verinag and a flat in Delhi. It all costs Rs 12.65 crore. So the Mirs’ are wealthier than Ms Mufti and Dr Farooq Abdullah as well.
In north Kashmir Baramulla, it is NC’s Mohammad Akbar Lone pitted against a former IPS officer Aijaz Ali Khan, who was fielded by Peoples Conference.
Lone has multiple houses – he usually lives in Humhama in the Friends’ Colony, outside the Srinagar airport. In Humhama, he says he has acquired nine marlas of land for Rs 30 lakhs, which now has a market value of Rs 50 lakh. He has a house at Naid Khaie and also half of the house at Chani Ramma in Jammu. The Jammu House values Rs 2 crore.
In his formal declaration, Lone has said that his immovable assets are Rs 7.84 lakh and his wife owns golden jewellery worth Rs 6.5 lakh. Interestingly, he does not own a motor car.
Lone has inherited 95 kanals and 20 marals of land in Naid Khaie, his ancestral village. Later in 1995, he purchased 20 kanals. So the total market value of his entire landed estate is Rs 7.50 crore.
Despite all this, he is poorer than Khan. A resident of Pehlipora (Uri), Raja retired as Inspector General in Jammu and Kashmir Police and joined PDP, a party he deserted to Peoples’ Conference. Mrs Raja has retired as a Zonal Education Officer in the state’s education department.
In his declaration of assets, Raja has stated that immovable assets are at Rs 11075300 as his wife’s liquid assets are at Rs 7994187. These include his investment of Rs 40 lakh in Itifaq Packaging Private Ltd and a payment of Rs 60 lakh that the couple made to al-Amin Charitable Trust. He drives a Rs 13 lakh Hyundai.
Raja and his wife own 7.64 acres of land at Pehlipora, Chinad and Shalteng of which they have purchased 40 kanals. Its current valuation is Rs 8.03 crore, according to the affidavit.
In Brein, Nishat, in the city outskirts, they have nine marlas of land valuing Rs 43.6 lakh. His wife owns 30 marlas of land in Sidhra Jammu which values Rs 3.06 crore now. It was acquired in 1993.
They have a home at Pehlipra and another one at Kral Sanghri in Nishat. Besides, they have a flat at Kedrya Vihar in Gurgaon and another flat in Channi, Jammu’s Sweet Apartments. The declaration said that excepting the flat at Gurgaon, every other place is inherited. They have put the value of these residential spaces at Rs 3.8 crore for Raja and Rs 18.08 lakh for his wife.
So the total immovable assets of Raja Aijaz are at Rs 125365000 and that of his wife at Rs 32434000. Raja has a liability – a bank loan, of Rs 848606. So, given by the declaration Raja has made, the couple is the richest couple. Raja has total assets of Rs 13.64 crore and his wife is worth Rs 4.04 crore – cumulatively they are around Rs 18 crore.
But there is somebody richest of them all. In Srinagar, a business tycoon, Irfan Raza Ansari is contesting on Peoples’ Conference mandate.
Son of Shia Muslim leader late Molvi Iftikhar Hussain Ansari, the family has changed parties quite often. Iftikhar was initially with Congress and later switched over to the NC. He then joined PDP and became its minister. His son Imran Raza Ansari, succeeded him and became a minister in Mehbooba Mufti’s cabinet. Last summer, he and his uncle, Abid Raza Ansari, both MLAs, left PDP to join Peoples’ Conference. Now the Ansari scion is pitted mainly against Dr Farooq Abdullah, his father’s bosom friend, in Srinagar.
Irfan and his doctor wife, according to the self-attested declaration, have less than Rs 3 lakh in hand and another Rs 8.5 lakh in banks. But they own a set of companies that are in car retail, infrastructure and the telecom. Irfan owns a huge fleet of cars valuing almost Rs 9.29 crore. These include a Fortuner (Rs 24 lakh), Mercedes G6S (Rs 1.3 Cr), Mercedes E 220 (two numbers) worth Rs 1.2 Cr, Mercedes S500 (Rs 1.5 Cr), Innova (Rs 25 lakh), Range Rover (Rs 2.10 Cr), Toyota Land Cruiser (Rs 1.2 Cr), Toyota Camry (Rs 35 Lakh), Volks Wagon Polo (Rs 8 lakh), Davidson Fat Boy Bike worth Rs 21 lakh, a Tempo Traveller (Rs 14 lakh) and a Motor Boat.
Irfan’s personal jewellery is worth a million rupees as his wife has it for Rs 30 lakh, according to Ansari’s affidavit. Ansari’s total movable assets are at Rs 59.20 crore at the current value according to the affidavit.