The proportion of candidates with criminal and serious criminal cases against them in the ongoing parliamentary elections in India is more than in the previous two national polls, according to a report by election watchdog Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) released on Monday. The report, based on an analysis of the mandatory affidavits filed by the candidates with the Election Commission, says 19 per cent of the close to 8,000 candidates contesting the 2019 general elections have declared pending criminal cases against them. This is compared to 17 per cent in 2014 and 15 per cent in 2009.
Similarly, 13 per cent of the candidates in this year’s polls have declared serious criminal cases against them as against 11 per cent in 2014 and eight per cent in 2009, says the report. The percentage of millionaire-candidates who have assets worth Rs one crore or more in this year’s polls stands at 29 against 27 in 2014 and 16 in 2009, according to the report.
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 ADR report says. 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 per cent while the Bahujan Samaj Party has the lowest, 22 per cent, says the report. The number of candidates with criminal cases fielded by the BJP and the Congress has gone up this time, As against the 2009 general elections, 27 per cent candidates of both the parties had criminal cases against them and this figure rose to nearly 30 in 2014 and further to 40 this year.
Regional outfits too have a high share of candidates with criminal cases. For instance, among key regional parties contesting at least 10 seats, Bihar’s Rashtriya Janata Dal has the highest share of candidates with criminal cases, 86 per cent while Odisha’s ruling Biju Janata Dal has the lowest share of such candidates, just five, according to the ADR report.
The ADR report also puts out figures on the assets of the candidates contesting the elections based on the affidavits filed by the candidates at the time of filing their nomination. The share of candidates with assets worth Rs one crore or more has also increased over time, from 16 per cent in 2009, to 27per cent in 2014 to 29 per cent this year.
83 per cent of the candidates of both the BJP and the Congress own at least Rs one crore worth of assets. But the Congress candidates are on average richer than the BJP candidates, says the report adding the median of the assets of BJP candidates is Rs 4 crore, compared to the Congress candidates’ Rs 4.9 crore.
The two parties have fielded more millionaire candidates this year than in the previous two general elections.
The Congress fielded 63 per cent millionaire candidates in 2009, which rose to 79 per cent in 2014 and further to 83 per cent in 2019 while the BJP fielded 42 per cent millionaire candidates in 2009, 72 per cent in 2014 and 83 per cent in 2019. 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. Nakul Nath is the son of Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Kamal Nath.