Mutual fund investments top politico agenda

Mutual fund investments top politico agenda

Mutual fund investments top politico agenda

As the government and regulators try hard to convince the common man to invest in mutual funds, a large number of politicians, including Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi and Arun Jaitley, have already pumped in lakhs of rupees in these investment products.

Those having invested in mutual funds also include Varun Gandhi, Amar Singh, Shazia Ilmi, Jyotiraditya Scindia, Ambika Soni and Shashi Tharoor, as also new entrants on the political scene from other areas namely ex-banker Meera Sanyal, former Infosys executive V Balakrishnan, former India soccer team captain Bhaichung Bhutia and 'dream girl' Hema Malini.

An analysis of election affidavits filed by those fighting the ongoing Lok Sabha elections shows that a large number of contestants have invested significant amounts of money in mutual funds along with other investments. Most of such contestants have invested lakhs of rupees in mutual funds while for a few, such investments run into crores of rupees.

At the same time, there are also those with mutual fund investments worth a few thousand rupees only, while those not having invested in these products include BJP's prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi, Aam Aadmi Party's Arvind Kejriwal, BJP President Rajnath Singh, former Army Chief V K Singh, Samajwadi Party supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav and BJP's firebrand leader Uma Bharti.

Mutual funds provide for pooling of investments from various kinds of investors- including commoners, banks and corporates- for the collected money to be invested further in shares and bonds. The investors get returns as per the performance of the securities where this money is invested.

A total of 45 fund houses together manage assets worth Rs 9 lakh crore collected from various investors, but their penetration is very low, especially in smaller cities.The government and regulator Sebi have been trying very hard for the past few years to push mutual funds as a preferred investment product among common investors, as the risks attached are said to be much lower in comparison to direct investments in shares or bonds.

Sebi is also finalising a new long-term mutual fund policy under which it has sought tax benefits for investors and expects to push the assets base of the sector to Rs 20 lakh crore within five years.

According to the election affidavit of Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi, he has over Rs 81 lakh in mutual funds while his mother and UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi has above Rs 82 lakh in these products. The election affidavits of the two Gandhis in the last Lok Sabha polls of 2009 did not show any mutual fund investments.

Amar Singh, the Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) candidate from Fatehpur Sikri and a former SP leader, and his wife have assets worth about Rs 100 crore. The 58-year-old Singh has declared movable assets worth Rs 41.34 crore of which investment in mutual funds is worth Rs 6.27 crore. 

Senior BJP leader Arun Jaitley's affidavit also shows investments worth Rs 2 crore in mutual funds. Former BJP chief Nitin Gadkari's affidavit shows that he has no mutual fund investments of his own, but his wife has invested over Rs 2 lakh in these products. 

Mutual fund top executives said that the newer generation is much more keen on using MF route to diversify compared to elders whose favourite investments were gold and bank FDs and the same trend is seen among politicians also.

Power minister Jyotiraditya Scindia, who belongs to the family of the maharajahs of Gwalior, has mutual fund investments worth over Rs 67 lakh, while his family members have also invested in these products. In Nagaland, Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio of the Naga People's Front has invested about Rs 17 lakh in MFs across multiples schemes. His investments bet on themes like economic reforms and power sector.

In Darjeeling, poll debutant and soccer star Bhaichung Bhutia has over Rs 4 lakh invested in mutual funds. Banker-turned-politician Meera Sanyal, an Aam Aadmi Party candidate from Mumbai South constituency, has used liquid funds -- that are utilised for parking short term money -- for Rs 20 lakh out of her total assets of Rs 50 crore. Sanyal has also put Rs 51 lakh in exchange traded funds, which are traded on stock exchanges.

Former Infosys chief financial officer V Balakrishnan, also an AAP candidate, has put nearly Rs 1 crore in a gold saving systematic investment plan mutual fund product and a gold ETF. Bala, as he is commonly known, used to manage over Rs 15,000 crore of the IT giant's cash chest.

Another AAP leader, Ilmi, has over Rs 60 lakh in mutual funds, while mutual fund investment of actress-turned- politician Hema Malini is only Rs 37,000.

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