If you thought the poll process in Bihar had been thoroughly cleansed, you may be in for a surprise.
Of the 2,032 candidates fighting for the 140 seats in the first three phases of the six-phase poll, 72 have proven records of fighting bloody battles and killing and maiming.
The National Election Watch (NEW), an organisation working for electoral reform, analysed 962 candidates in the fray during the first three phases and found that 379 of them, or 39 per cent, were facing criminal cases. And of them, 231 have serious charges like murder, attempt to murder, rape, robbery and theft registered against them.
According to the affidavits, all major political parties competed with one another to rope in tainted candidates. The affidavits contradicted the parties' promises to opt for candidates with a clean image.
The BJP came on top of the list with 68 per cent of its candidates facing criminal charges. BJP leaders, however, said most of the tainted candidates were not exactly criminals. The charges are mostly election-related offences.
The JD (U), to which Chief Minister Nitish Kumar belongs, came third - after Ram Vilas Paswan's LJP's 68 per cent - recording the presence of 59 per cent tainted candidates among its flock. Lalu Prasad's RJD posted 55 per cent.
Deputy Chief Minister and BJP leader Sushil Modi said, "We succeeded in bringing back many industrialists who had migrated to other states." He said as many as 45,467 criminals were prosecuted during the last five years.
But RJD chief Lalu Prasad said, “The ground reality is different. Most of the crimes, particularly in rural areas, remained unreported.”