Elections in Uttar Pradesh largely revolve around the two Cs—criminals and ‘crorepatis’. While that is not an exception this time, the difference, however, is in the numbers.
There is a drop of 12% in the number of those with criminal background whereas that of crorepatis has recorded a jump to 302, according to an analysis of the nominations of 836 candidates for 73 constituencies in the first phase of polls on February 11.
The study by Association for Democratic Reforms and UP Elections Watch (UPEW) belies public posturing by political parties on several counts.
For instance, BSP, which claims to speak for the underprivileged sections of the society, has fielded the most ‘money bags’. Ninety percent of its candidates are crorepatis.
Despite the holier-than-thou posturing on criminalisation of politics, most parties have people facing criminal charges in their nominee lists. Foremost among them is the BJP, whose 40% of contestants have criminal background, some of them have serious charges, against them.
Surprisingly, the ruling SP, which often draws flak from its rivals for giving patronage to “lumpen” elements, comes behind BSP (33 per cent) and RLD (29 per cent) with 25 per cent in this regard.
Of the 836 candidates, 168 contestants have declared that they have criminal cases against them, 143 of whom have serious criminal charges, according to the report.
“The drop of 12% in candidates with criminal background is good news for us. Last year, this figure was 32%. Though the figures are for phase one and a clear picture will only emerge after we have the details of all the seven phases, we are happy that our efforts are finally beginning to show some positive results,” said UPEW CEO Sanjay Singh.
The former army major general, however, noted that on the crorepati front there is a huge jump.
“The average assets of the candidate now stand at Rs 2.81 crore. This is a huge jump from the previous polls. This indicates that only those who have money are taking the plunge while what we need is more and more right-thinking people, professionals, educated and thinking class to participate in the process,” he said.
BSP tops the crorepati list with 66 nominees, followed by BJP 61, RLD 41, SP 40 and Congress 18. Besides, 43 of the 293 independent candidates have declared assets worth more than Rs one crore.
Five national parties, eight state outfits and 85 unrecognised entities are among the 98 represented in this phase.
On the education front, the report states that 402 candidates have a qualification between Class 5 and 12 while 336 have are graduates or above. At least 64 have declared themselves just literate and 15 illiterate.
Also, 581 candidates are in the 25-50 years age group while 239 are in the 51-80 years bracket. Of the 836 candidates, 70 are women, the report noted.