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    West Bengal assembly polls: 25% candidates contesting in phase 1 have criminal cases

    West Bengal assembly polls: 25% candidates contesting in phase 1 have criminal cases

    West Bengal assembly polls: 25% candidates contesting in phase 1 have criminal cases
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    By CNBCTV18.com  IST (Published)

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    Of these, 48 candidates, or 25 percent, have declared criminal cases against them. This apart, 42 candidates (22 percent) have declared serious criminal cases against them.

    The West Bengal Election Watch and Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) has analysed the self-sworn affidavits of all 191 candidates contesting in the first phase of the assembly elections in the state.
    Of these, 48 candidates, or 25 percent, have declared criminal cases against them. This apart, 42 candidates (22 percent) have declared serious criminal cases against them.
    As many as 12 candidates have declared cases relating to crime against women, 12 candidates have declared culpability. Of these 12 candidates, one has declared cases related to rape. Eight candidates have declared cases related to murder against themselves, and 19 have declared cases related to attempt to murder.
    In terms of constituencies, out of 30, seven, or 23 percent, are red alert constituencies — where three or more contesting candidates have declared criminal cases against themselves.
    When it comes to education, poll rights group ADR said 96 candidates, or 50 percent, have stated that their educational qualifications were between classes 5 and 12. While three candidates are diploma holders, 92, or 48 percent, have said they were graduates or above.
    Out of the 191 candidates, the report said 19, or 10 percent, are crorepatis. The average assets per candidate contesting in the first phase is Rs 43.77 lakh. A total of 13 candidates have not declared their PAN details.
    When it comes to age, 53 or 28 percent, candidates have said they were between 25 and 40 years while 109 (57 percent) have said they were between 41 and 60 years. Twenty-nine (15 percent) candidates have declared their age to be between 61 and 80 years.
    In terms of gender representation, a meagre 21, or 11 percent, candidates contesting in the first phase are women.
    The poll rights group stated in its report that the directions of the Supreme Court have had no effect on the political parties while selection the candidates, as they have given tickets to around 25 percent candidates with criminal cases.
    "All major parties contesting in first phase of West Bengal elections have given tickets to 33-56 percent candidates who have declared criminal cases against themselves. The Supreme Court, in its directions dated February 13, 2020, had specifically instructed political parties to give reasons for such selection and why other individuals without criminal antecedents could not be selected as candidates," stated the report.
    The report added, "During the Bihar Assembly elections held in October 2020, political parties gave unfounded and baseless reasons such as popularity of the person, does good social work, cases are politically motivated etc. These are not sound and cogent reasons for fielding candidates with tainted backgrounds. This data clearly shows that political parties have no interest in reforming the electoral system and our democracy will continue to suffer at the hands of lawbreakers who become lawmakers."
    The elections to the 294-member West Bengal Assembly will be conducted in eight phases and starts on March 27. The last round of voting is on April 29, making it the longest ever election in the state. The votes will be counted on May 2.
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