Bloomberg News

India Discloses Ministers’ Assets Amid Protests Over Corruption

September 04, 2011

Sept. 4 (Bloomberg) -- Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s office disclosed the financial assets of India’s ministers online after public outrage at corruption sparked protests by tens of thousands in support of an anti-graft hunger striker.

Singh declared personal assets of about 50 million rupees ($1.1 million) on his official website. The man who as finance minister 20 years ago launched reforms that liberalized the nation’s economy listed 32 million rupees in savings and term deposits and a 1996 Maruti car valued at 24,745 rupees. Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee declared his net worth at 12.6 million rupees and his wife’s at 17.8 million rupees.

The bid for transparency comes after Anna Hazare, a 73- year-old activist, endured a 13-day fast against corruption that sparked nationwide protests last month. The government is embroiled in a series of graft allegations, including irregularities at last year’s Commonwealth Games for which organizers bought $80 rolls of toilet paper, according to an Economic Times report citing internal documents, and a probe into the 2008 sale of mobile-phone permits that India’s chief auditor said may have denied the exchequer $31 billion.

The government’s mishandling of Hazare, who was initially arrested, has eroded public support for Singh’s Congress party to 20 percent from 30 percent since May, while backing for its chief rival, the Bharatiya Janata Party, rose to 32 percent from 23 percent, according to a poll released yesterday by Nielsen and Star News.

The three-day survey of 9,000 people was carried out starting on Aug. 29, the day after Hazare ended his hunger strike, according to the Star News website. It didn’t provide a margin of error.

Of the 77 officials listed on the prime minister’s website, net worth declarations weren’t available for five, including Vilasrao Deshmukh, minister of science and technology.

--Editors: Jim McDonald, Paul Gordon

INDIA ASIA BRIC GOV POL GEN LAW EM POLLS

To contact the reporter on this story: Natalie Obiko Pearson in Mumbai at npearson7@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Paul Tighe ptighe@bloomberg.net


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