Over 20 % of the candidates in the West Bengal assembly polls whose affidavits were analysed by a non-governmental organisation were found to have criminal charges pending against them.
The West Bengal Election Watch (WBEW), which has analysed the affidavits of 1,255 out of the 1,792 nominees in fray for the 294-seat state assembly, found that as many as 260 had criminal cases pending against them.
Among the 260 candidates, a maximum of 81 are from main opposition Trinamool Congress, followed by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) with 48. The Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) has 38 candidates with pending cases, while the Congress has only 28. The rest are from smaller regional parties and allies of the ruling Left Front.
Among the candidates, independent nominee Chhatradhar Mahato, who is also the jailed convenor of a pro-Maoist tribal outfit in West Midnapore, tops the list with 31 cases. Other candidates who have serious charges against them are Trinamool nominees Becharam Manna, Sekh Sahonawez and Idris Ali. The three are accused respectively in 22, 15 and five cases, which include murder, attempt to murder, kidnapping and theft.
At least 552, or about 44 %, of the 1,255 candidates whose affidavits were analysed declared that they had not filed their income tax returns. At least 330 of the candidates have not given their Permanent Account Number (PAN) details, WBEW state coordinator Biplab Halim said.
It was also pointed out that among the candidates whose affidavits were scrutinised, three were illiterate, 12 barely literate, 265 school dropouts while 105 candidates passed the secondary and and 124 higher secondary examinations.
Eight candidates have not mentioned their educational details in their affidavits. The rest are degree holders.