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A melting pot of candidates

From millionaires to the penniless, from doctorates to illiterates, from youths just out of college to seasoned and veteran politicians, from crime accused to innocents — the MCD elections have candidates from all age groups and all walks of life. Atul Mathur reports.

delhi Updated: Apr 11, 2012 01:33 IST
Atul Mathur
Atul Mathur
Hindustan Times

From millionaires to the penniless, from doctorates to illiterates, from youths just out of college to seasoned and veteran politicians, from crime accused to innocents — the MCD elections have candidates from all age groups and all walks of life.

Delhi election watch, a part of the Association of Democratic Reforms (ADR) — a non-profit, apolitical group working in the field of electoral reforms — has come out with a detailed analysis of the affidavits and personal information the candidates submitted to the state election commission (SEC). “We want voters to use this information and make an informed choice these elections,” said Jagdeep Chhokar of ADR.

Criminal backgrounds
If you thought only states like Uttar Pradesh and Bihar see candidates with criminal records contesting and winning elections, you are mistaken — 139 candidates with criminal records will be contesting these elections.

While a majority of them have minor cases — such as obstructing public servant from discharging his duty or wrongful restraint — registered against them, there are 43 candidates have been accused of heinous crimes such as murder, attempt to murder, kidnapping, robbery and extortion.

According to the analysis, the ruling BJP has fielded 39 candidates with criminal cases registered against them. Eleven of them are accused in serious crimes. The Congress has fielded 28 such candidates with 10 accused of serious crimes while 19 Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) candidates have criminal cases registered against them. Five of them are accused of heinous crimes.

Interestingly, 25 women candidates have a tainted background. But only one woman — Sandhya Sharma, contesting from Patparganj, on a BJP ticket — has been accused of committing a heinous crime. Sharma has three cases under various sections registered against her, including one of voluntary causing hurt by dangerous weapon or means.

BSP’s Jai Singh, contesting from RK Puram in South Delhi, tops the list with five cases, including three of heinous crimes.

Among a long list of candidates with deep pockets, a group of 12 stand out. These are the contestants who do not have a single penny of their own, their bank account is nil, they don’t have own a piece of jewellery or valuable, they do not own even an inch of land and have no income from any source.

And while political parties claim they have given tickets to people depending on their winnability and irrespective of their financial background, 11 of the 12 ‘zero declared asset’ candidates are contesting as independents.

Pushpa Devi from Ashok Vihar is the only such candidate contesting on ticket of BSP, which had fielded maximum multi-millionaires in 2008 Assembly and 2009 parliamentary elections in the Capital.

Among the richest, the Congress has the maximum number of 116 millionaires contesting elections, while the BJP has 103. BSP has 52, SP has 11 and smaller and independent parties account for 67 millionaires.

“Indian National Lok Dal has fielded just nine candidates but almost all of them come from a strong financial background. The average assets of INLD candidates are approximately R3.46 crore while the BJP candidates have average assets of R2.81 crore. The average assets of Congress candidates are estimated at R2.71 crore,” an ADR volunteer said.

Education and age
The line-up is impressive: 16 doctors, four people with doctorates, 105 with professional qualifications including management graduates, lawyers, chartered accountants, lecturers and teachers and 285 with graduate degrees.

But the contrast is equally stark. There are 67 candidates who are illiterate — they can’t even sign their names; 75 are literates but can’t do anything beyond writing their names and counting money and 97 could barely manage to study up to Class V.

According to the analysis, 16 per cent of candidates have studied only up to class 5 while 27 per cent are graduates or have higher education degrees.

Both the BJP and the Congress have fielded almost equal number of well-qualified candidates. No wonder then that of the 16 doctors contesting elections, eight come from the BJP and an equal number are from the Congress.

A large number of independent candidates, however, are either illiterate or semi-literate. The BSP has also fielded 32 candidates who have studied only up to Class V.

When it comes to age, a number of youngsters are in the fray this municipal election. This, despite the fact that most politicians in India are well above the age of 55.

Of the 1,485 candidates analysed by Delhi election watch till now, 1,172 candidates are less than 50 years. A record number of 34 candidates are below the age of 25.

Unlike assembly or parliament elections the minimum age to contest municipal elections is 21. Your Councillor's Report Card

First Published: Apr 11, 2012 00:00 IST