1,611 per cent jump in assets in 5 years. Hello!

The gentleman in the picture possesses the most famous set of silver strands in Karnataka politics.

When he got his son married off to Union civil aviation minister Praful Patel‘s daughter in November 2006, the who’s who of politics (P. Chidambaram, Dayanidhi Maran, Amar Singh, Ram Vilas Paswan, Jaipal Reddy) posed with the bride and groom.

When an educational trust named after his father was inaugurated in May 2005, “a galaxy of industry icons” (K.V. Kamath, Nandan Nilekani, T.V. Mohandas Pai, Sudha Murthy, Baba Kalyani, R. Gopalakrishnan, Vijay and Vikram Kirloskar) was there to lend glitter.

He is, of course, R.V. Deshpande.

For years now, Deshpande has stalled attempts to secure information of his assets and liabilities filed before the Karnataka Lok Ayukta for two years 1986-87 and 2004-05 using the Right to Information Act.

Deshpande has consistently said that the information given by legislators is “personal and confidential“, and should not be made available to the public as it had no relationship to any public activity or interest. Revealing the details would cause an unwarranted invasion of the privacy of the individual.

Personal? Confidential? Intrusion of privacy?

You bet.

Deshpande, 61, who is the Congress candidate from Haliyal constituency in the 2008 assembly elections, has filed the mandatory affidavit before the returning officer, and every line of it reveals why Deshpande has been so cagey about his assets and liabilities.

# Deshpande’s assets at the time of the May 2004 elections: Rs 9 crore.

# Deshpande’s assets at the time of the May 2008 elections: Rs 145 crore.

That Rs 136 crore jump is one part of the “Deshpande Shining” story. The other part is the pathbreaking empowerment of women in the Deshpande family (and indeed in most political families), as a result of which women of the house are all miraculously worth more than the men.

# Deshpande owns properties of Rs 47.83 crore; Radha Deshpande owns properties of Rs 97.74 crore.

# Deshpande has Rs 1.66 lakh in cash; Radha Deshpande has Rs 12.92 lakh in cash.

# Deshpande has Rs 26.78 lakh in deposits; Radha Deshpande has Rs 2.94 crore in deposits.

# Deshpande has investments worth Rs 21.87 crore in various companies, Radha Deshpande has investments of Rs 63.68 crore.

# The share of Mr and Mrs Deshpande in the undivided family is Rs 12.58 crore.

# Mr and Mrs Deshpande have national savings certificates and insurance policies of Rs 4 crore; gold, silver and diamond jewels of Rs 59 lakh; agricultural property and sites worth Rs 4 crore; residential and commercial buildings worth Rs 6 crore.

Deshpande has been a member of the 7th, 8th, 9th, 10th, 11th and 12th assemblies. Deshpande has held six different portfolios: minister for small scale Industries, agriculture, housing, major and medium industries, infrastructure development, and co-operation.

But can anybody explain how a man who lists “service to mankind, especially poor” among his “other interests” saw a 1,611 per cent appreciation in his assets in the last four years?

The Sensex ended 2004 at 6602; yesterday in 2008, it was 17,287. When the Sensex has seen a 261 per cent jump in a four-year period, how has the “Deshpande Story” been 6.17 times better than the “India Story”?

Oops, sorry, we missed something. Deshpande owes financial institutions Rs 2,032.

Photograph: Karnataka Photo News

Also read: A snapshot of a poor, debt-ridden farming family

And a snapshot of a simple devotee of Lord Rama