Deepak Bharadwaj of the Bahujan Samaj Party has emerged as the richest Lok Sabha candidate in the country so far as he declared assets worth around Rs 622 crore while filing nomination papers from West Delhi seat on Thursday.
Bharadwaj, a builder, has land valued at around Rs 400 crore across north India while he had invested around Rs 16 crore in bonds, according to the affidavit filed before the Returning Officer in New Delhi.
So far, a Mumbai-based businessman Khimji Patadia (53), contesting from Gujarat's Surendranagar was the richest candidate declaring assets worth Rs 514 crore, mainly in jewellery and real estate.
The other major crorepatis in the fray include Congress candidate L Rajagopal from Vijaywada (Rs 299 crore), BSP's Karan Singh Tanwar from South Delhi (Rs 175 crore) and Abu Azmi of Samajwadi Party from Mumbai-Northwest seat (Rs 122 crore).
Bharadwaj will be taking on Congress' Mahabal Mishra, who also filed the papers on Thursday declaring assets worth about Rs 3.68 crore, and senior BJP leader Jagdish Mukhi.
Bharadwaj personally owns three vehicles worth Rs 13 lakh besides those owned by his real estate company. He also runs Shiksha Bharti School in south-west Delhi's Dwarka.
He came on a tractor that he uses on his farmland to the Rampura election office in West Delhi to file his nomination.
Bharadwaj said he had owned the agricultural lands from his ancestors.
Since most of the lands were located near the highways, their market value increases significantly, Bharadwaj told PTI.
Besides his interest in real estate business and education sector, the 58-year-old businessman also owns a hotel complex on the Delhi-Gurgaon expressway and a township project in Hardwar.
The BSP leader said he has been in social service for the past 30 years and constructed many schools and orphanage.
On joining BSP, he said, "It is the only party that cares for Dalits and those who have joined care for them."
Asked about his plans if he wins the elections, Bharadwaj said he would establish a university to make sure that people get good education and develop basic infrastructure like facilities for drinking water and roads among others.