Muscle, money power in assembly polls: Survey

Muscle, money power evident in recent assembly polls: Survey

New Delhi, May 20 (IANS) Ample display of money and muscle power was witnessed in the recent assembly elections in four states and a union territory, going by the information furnished by winning candidates in their affidavits to the Election Commission.

The analysis of affidavits by Delhi-based think tank Association for Democratic Rights (ADR) shows a rise in both the number of criminal cases as well as the wealth of these candidates.

“We analysed the information furnished by 812 candidates elected to the assemblies of Assam, Kerala, Puducherry, Tamil Nadu and West Bengal. The results are quite disturbing,” said professor Jagdeep Chhokar, founder-member of ADR.

Of the 812 MLAs whose affidavits were analysed, 294 have declared criminal cases against them.

Of these, 176 have serious criminal cases like murder, attempt to murder, kidnapping, robbery, extortion etc. registered against them.

State-wise, West Bengal, has the highest percentage of MLAs with serious criminal charges against them (32 percent), followed by Tamil Nadu and Kerala (19 percent each).

The small union territory of Puducherry is not far behind with 13 percent of its recently elected MLAs having serious criminal cases against them.

Assam has the least percentage (8 percent) of MLAs with criminal cases.

Notably, there has been a steady rise in the number of MLAs with criminal background in all the five states as compared with 2011.

The most notable rise has been in Kerala where the percentage of such MLAs rose from nine percent in 2011 to 19 percent now. West Bengal recorded an increase of eight percent in MLAs with serious criminal cases, Tamil Nadu and Puducherry with three percent increase and Assam with the lowest spike of two percent.

In terms of wealth – or the number of ‘crorepati’ (multi-millionaire) MLAs, as per the think tank – the highest percentage, a whopping 83 percent, is in Puducherry which has just 30 assembly seats.

Tamil Nadu is a close second with 76 percent multi-millionaire MLAs. Assam has 57 percent while Kerala and West Bengal have 44 percent and 34 percent crorepati MLAs respectively.

“There has been a considerable rise in the number of crorepati MLAs in these states as compared with the 2011 assemblies,” Chhokar said.

In 2011, these figures were: Assam (39 percent); Kerala (29 percent); Puducherry (63 percent); Tamil Nadu (51 percent) and West Bengal (15 percent).

“These figures tell us that the muscle and money power are increasingly dominating politics. Alternately, we can also say the criminalisation of politics is on the rise,” Chhokar said.

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