Agartala, March 3 (IANS) Although the industry-starved northeast is the most economically backward region in India, over 60 percent legislators in Nagaland and Meghalaya are billionaires, a report said Sunday.
"Out of the 59 newly elected members in Nagaland, 36 (61 percent) are crorepatis (billionaires) while in Meghalaya, out of 60 just-elected legislators, 36 (60 percent) are crorepatis," National Election Watch (NEW) programme cordinator Biswendu Bhattacharjee said here after releasing the report.
However, in the Left-ruled Tripura, of the 60 newly voted members, eight (13 percent) are billionaires.
The NEW and the Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) prepared the report after analysing the affidavits of all the newly elected legislators in Tripura, Meghalaya and Nagaland, where assembly elections were held in February.
The results were declared Feb 28. Each of the three states have 60 seats in the assemblies.
According to the NEW report, the average value of assets of each newly elected member in Meghalaya is Rs.7.77 crore, Rs.3.03 crore in Nagaland and Rs.53.61 lakh in Tripura.
In Nagaland, the average value of assets of a Congress member is Rs.12.35 crore. Legislators from other parties average Rs.3-6 crore.
In Nagaland, the average value of asset per Congress member is Rs.3.45 crore while the average value of asset for their NPF counterparts is Rs.3.49 crore.
In Tripura, the average value of assets per Congress member is Rs.1.83 crore, while Left Front members average Rs.27.59 lakh.
"There are criminal cases against 10 percent newly elected members in Tripura, followed by two percent each in Meghalaya and Nagaland," Bhattacharjee said.
According to the report, 28 (47 percent) members in Tripura are graduates or have higher degrees and 20 members (33 percent) are Class 10 pass or below.
In Christian dominated Nagaland, 42 (71 percent) members are graduates or have higher degrees while 12 members (20 percent) have studied up to Class 10 or less.
In Meghalaya, also a Christian dominated state, 36 (60 percent) legislators are graduates or have higher educational qualifications while 11 members (18 percent) have passed Class 10 or less.
According to the 2011 census, the literacy rate in Tripura is 87.75 percent followed by 80.11 percent in Nagaland and 75.48 percent in Meghalaya.
The NEW, a platform of academics, legal experts, journalists, social activists, intellectuals, NGOs and retired officials, published the report of the candidates' profile based on affidavits filed along with their nomination papers before the elections.
"Following the Supreme Court judgements of May 2, 2002 and March 13, 2003, it is the citizen's fundamental right to know the background of candidates before casting their valuable votes," said B.B. Senapati, former Tripura law secretary.
The ADR, a national body working for improving democracy and governance in India since 1999, helped NEW compile the report.