Half of the candidates fielded in the first phase of the Jharkhand election by the two major parties — the JMM and the BJP— are facing criminal charges, an independent study says.
The Lalu Prasad-led Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD), however, has the most unflattering statistics as 67% of its nominees have a criminal background.
Of the 199 candidates contesting on November 25, 55 have criminal cases against their names.
Thirty-seven of them are accused of serious crimes, including five who are facing murder charges, according to NGOs Association for Democratic Reforms and Jharkhand Election Watch.
“A majority of these cases had been lodged during the Jharkhand movement. They had fought for Jharkhand’s cause,” said JMM spokesperson Supriyo Bhattacharya.
With election expenses soaring, political parties in the country are more likely to field criminal candidates who can pay their own way, analysts say. Some charges may be unfounded, as judicial process is often used to smear political opponents and police in many states are corrupt, they added.
“IPC sections cannot describe whether he or she is a criminal. We should see the nature of cases and record of crimes. I am facing four cases the nature of which is breaking barricades and leading public processions,” said senior BJP leader Saryu Rai.
55% of the JVM’s candidates have been booked for crimes while 43% of the Congress nominees have criminal cases against them.
The RJD also has a rich pool of wealthy candidates — five of its nominees in the first phase are crorepatis. JVM candidate from the Panki seat, Madhu Sudan Tripathy, is the richest candidate in this phase with total assets worth Rs 23.53 crore.