DELHI: Who says India's politicians can't be trusted? Some companies believe otherwise and have backed up this faith by staking their money in the form of unsecured loans to various politicians. Some have meanwhile given advances against collateral such as land. The loans and advances from private companies — ranging from 50 lakh to as much as 16 crore — have been declared in affidavits filed by Lok Sabha election candidates. Those giving the loans are from various sectors but there seem to be quite a few real estate developers among them, including Mumbai-based Housing Development and Infrastructure Ltd (HDIL), Bangalore-based Salarpuria group, Sobha Developers and others.
Such loans and advances have been given to persons cutting across party lines. An unsecured loan is generally given to borrowers with the highest credit rating. Some of the better-known recipients are Gopinath Munde and Nitin Gadkari of BJP, Ambika Soni of Congress, Rabri Devi of RJD and K Chandrashekar Rao of TRS. The Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) think-tank parsed the data on some 8,000 candidates standing for election. About 700, mainly belonging to national parties, have declared "loans from individuals or entities" ranging from a few lakhs to 50 crore in their affidavits, said Manoj Kumar, senior research fellow at ADR.
One thing he found intriguing was that "many of these politicians have crores of rupees as deposits in banks". BJP leader Munde's family has borrowed nearly 7 crore from companies such as Pawansut Infotech, Pannageshwar Sugar Mills, Aurangabad Paper & Allied Industries and others. Former BJP president Nitin Gadkari owes 1 crore to HDIL. Former film star Hema Malini, the BJP candidate from Mathura, has borrowed 5 crore from Sahara India TV Network. Congress leader and former Union minister Ambika Soni, contesting from Anandpur Sahib in Punjab, has disclosed an advance of 2.5 crore from Raheja Developers. Replying to queries sent by ET, Raheja's spokesperson Dimple Bhardwaj said, "Yes, we have given refundable security of 2.5 crore for development of project on their land in Gurgaon. The said land is owned by Uday and Anup Soni since 1991."
Another Congress leader from Karnataka, DK Suresh, has received an unsecured loan of 1 crore from Hems Construction and an advance of about 14 crore from Salarpuria and Sobha Developers. A Salarpuria spokesperson told ET that the loan was given to Suresh as an interest-free refundable deposit on one of his properties offered for joint development. A Sobha Developers spokesperson said it's in the "business of development of immovable properties and the transaction referred to has been undertaken in the ordinary course of business and at an arm's length basis, which is well within the framework of law."
Kuldeep Bishnoi of Haryana Janhit Congress (BL) owes 7 crore to SRB Investment & Properties and 30 lakh to SKA Estates. RJD chief Lalu Prasad's wife Rabri Devi has received a loan of 75 lakh from Patna-based Shreya Construction Ltd.
TRS chief K Chandrashekar Rao, seeking election from Medak in Andhra Pradesh, has got 3 crore from companies such as Prathma Industries Ltd and. 1crore from Visaka Industries Ltd based in the state. Among other regional leaders who have disclosed loans from private companies are Akali Dal leader Harsimrat Kaur Badal, who has got. 10 crore from NK Sharma Enterprises, a Chandigarh-based real estate company.