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Lok Sabha Elections 2019: More crorepatis, people with criminal cases in 2019 poll fray

Out of 1500 candidates with declared criminal cases, 1070 (13% of all candidates) have criminal cases of serious nature against them. This includes cases related to murder, attempt to murder, kidnapping, hate speech, rape and other crimes against women.

lok sabha elections Updated: May 14, 2019 10:09 IST
Vijdan Mohammad Kawoosa
Vijdan Mohammad Kawoosa
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Association for Democratic Reforms,Election Commission,criminal candidates
The number of candidates with criminal cases fielded by the two biggest parties, the BJP and the Congress, has increased over time(Arun Mondhe/ Hindustan Times)

Nearly a fifth or 19% of the close to 8000 candidates contesting the 2019 general elections have declared pending criminal cases against them while 29% have assets worth Rs 1 crore or more, according to a report by election watchdog Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) released on Monday. The report is based on analysis of affidavits filed by the candidates with the Election Commission of India.

These figures have increased for the second consecutive general election, which is to say that there has been an increase from 2009 to 2014, and subsequently, from 2014 to 2019. The share of candidates with criminal cases increased by four percentage points between 2009 and 2019 elections, from 15% to 19%, while the share of crorepati candidates increased by 13 percentage points, from 16% to 29%.

To be sure, not all candidates have criminal cases of serious nature against them. Out of 1500 candidates with declared criminal cases, 1070 (13% of all candidates) have criminal cases of serious nature against them. This includes cases related to murder, attempt to murder, kidnapping, rape and other crimes against women. Among the candidates with criminal cases, the share of those with serious criminal cases has also increased over time.

Among the candidates with criminal cases contesting this year, 55 have cases related to murder, 184 related to attempt to murder, 126 related to crimes against women (include nine cases of rape), 47 related to kidnapping while 95 are related to hate speech.

The overall figure of 19% candidates having criminal cases against them hides the fact that big political parties in India have a larger share of such candidates. For instance, nearly four in ten candidates of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Congress have declared criminal cases against them. Among the seven national parties in India, the Communist Party of India (Marxist) has the highest share of such candidates, 58%, while the Bahujan Samaj Party has the lowest, 22%.

The number of candidates with criminal cases fielded by the two biggest parties, the BJP and the Congress, has increased over time. In the 2009 general elections, 27% candidates of both these parties had criminal cases against them. This figure rose to nearly 30% in 2014 and further to 40% this year.

Regional parties also have a high share of candidates with declared criminal cases. For instance, among important regional parties contesting at least 10 seats, Bihar’s Rashtriya Janata Dal has the highest share of candidates with criminal cases, 86%. Among these parties, Odisha’s Biju Janata Dal has the lowest share of such candidates, just 5%.

Among all candidates contesting the election this year, the BJP’s candidate from Kerala’s Pathanamthitta constituency, K Surendran, has the highest number of criminal cases pending against him, 240, of which 129 are of serious nature. The second highest number of criminal cases has been declared by the Congress party’s candidate from Kerala’s Idukki constituency, Dean Kuriakose. He has 204 criminal cases pending against him, 37 of them of serious nature.

The ADR report also gives statistics on wealth of the candidates contesting the elections. This, too, is based on the affidavits filed by the candidates at the time of nomination. The share of candidates with assets worth Rs 1 crore or more has also increased over time, from 16% in 2009, to 27% in 2014 and further to 29% this year.

Again, the bigger parties have a higher share: 83% of the candidates of both the BJP and the Congress own at least Rs 1 crore worth of assets. But the Congress candidates are on average slightly wealthier than the BJP candidates. The median of the assets of BJP candidates is Rs 4 crore, compared to the Congress candidates’ Rs 4.9 crore. This year, both these parties have fielded more crorepati candidates than in the previous two general elections. The Congress fielded 63% crorepati candidates in 2009, which rose to 79% in 2014 and further to 83% in 2019. The BJP fielded 42% crorepati candidates in 2009, which rose to 72% in 2014 and further to 83% in 2019.

The independent candidate from Bihar’s Pataliputra constituency, Ramesh Kumar Sharma, is the wealthiest candidate contesting this election with assets worth Rs 1108 crore. Two candidates of the Congress, Konda Vishweshwar Reddy (contesting from Telangana’s Chevella seat) and Nakul Nath (contesting from Madhya Pradesh’s Chhindwara seat) are next in terms of wealth, Rs 895 crore and Rs 660 crore respectively.

ADR has also analysed the wealth of 335 out of 338 sitting Members of Parliament (MPs) who are rerunning this year. On average, their assets increased by nearly Rs 6.9 crore between 2014 and 2019. Average assets of Congress MPs rose from Rs 30 crore to Rs 61 crore while those of BJP MPs rose from Rs 13 crore to Rs 17 crore in this period.

ADR has analysed affidavits of about 98.5% candidates contesting the 2019 elections. Affidavits of other candidates were not analysed due to unavailability of clear and complete affidavits.

First Published: May 14, 2019 08:55 IST