One out of every five, or 20%, candidate in the two-stage first phase of the West Bengal assembly polls have criminal cases against them, a report published by a civil society initiative has said.
West Bengal Election Watch (WBEW), which analysed affidavits filed by the candidates, said on Wednesday 17% of them have serious criminal cases like murder, rape, kidnapping and robbery against them.
Polling will be held in 18 constituencies in the south and western districts of the state in Phase 1(A) on April 1 and 31 will go to the polls in Phase 1(B) on April 11. A total of 296 candidates are in the fray for these 49 seats.
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has the maximum number of candidates with criminal cases against them at 15, followed by the ruling Trinamool Congress at 12, Congress at nine and CPI(M) at four.
WBEW’s coordinator Biplab Halim said Gobordhon Bagdi, the CPI(M) candidate from Salboni assembly constituency in West Midnapore district, is the only candidate who has two murder cases against him.
“A lot has been discussed in the media about pre-poll violence and possible violence during polls. When candidates having such criminal charges against them, no wonder violence becomes an integral part of election,” Halim said during a press conference.
It said 23 or 8% candidates have assets worth Rs 1 crore and above and added that out of the four richest candidates, three belong to the ruling party.
Pradip Kumar Majumder, Trinamool nominee from Durgapur (east) constituency in Burdwan district, is the richest candidate with total declared assets of Rs 12 crore and self-income of Rs 4 crore.
The second richest is actor Sohom Chakrabarty, who is contesting from Barjora in Bankura district and is a debutante in electoral politics. His declared asset is Rs 2 crore and self-income is Rs 98 lakh.
State textiles minister Shyamapada Mukherjee, who was grilled by the Enforcement Directorate in connection with the Saradha scam, is the third richest. A candidate from Bishnupur in Bankura district this time, Mukherjee’s total assets stand at Rs 1 crore and self-income at Rs 17 lakh.
The fourth richest candidate in Purnendu Chaudhuri, an Independent from Pandaveswar in Burdwan district.
Tanushree Dalui, SUCI (Communist) nominee from Chandrakona constituency in West Midnapore, has assets worth just Rs 500.
According to age profile, 169 candidates are aged between 25 and 50 years and 127 are aged between 51 and 80 years. Only 33 of a total of 296 candidates are female candidates.
As many as 129 candidates, or 44%, are graduates or post-graduates.