Money, muscle still rule Indian politics? UP polls say so

The number of candidates with serious criminal charges fighting the Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections have risen despite a slump in number of contestants falling by around 1,600.

Same is the case with crorepati candidates, if one goes by the statistics provided by private election watchdog Association for Democratic Rights (ADR) about 4,823 of the 4,853 candidates. It once again underscores the worrying trend of continuing influence of muscle-men and money in electoral battles.

At the same time, the number of women candidates witnessed a decrease from 527 in 2012 to 445 this time.

There are 704 or 14.59% of the 4,823 candidates with serious criminal cases like rape and murder registered against them. Proportion wise this was almost double compared to 2012 polls — 8.45% (557) of 6,590 candidates had serious charges.

Of the 704, candidates with murder charges 62 while there were 148 who had attempt to murder cases against them. Thirty-eight candidates were slapped cases relating to crime against women, ten of them were accused of rape.

BSP had the highest number of 123 candidates with serious criminal charges followed by BJP 100, Samajwadi Party 88, RLD 48, Congress 25 and 134 independents.

The analysis showed that 152 (38%) of the 403 constituencies had three or more candidates with declared criminal cases.

When it comes to wealthy contestants, 1,457 (30%) were crorepatis this time compared to 1,319 (20%) in the previous Assembly polls. The average of assets per candidate is Rs 1.91 crore this time.

In this category also, BSP is on top of the list with 335 (84%) candidates followed by BJP 302 (79%), Samajwadi Party 243 (79%), RLD 99 (36%), Congress 75 (66%) and independents 182 (13%) among others.

Congress’ Agra South candidate Nazir Ahamad is the richest candidate with Rs 211.47 crore followed by BSP’s Mubarakpur candidate Shah Alam (Rs 118.76 crore) and BJP’s Mant nominee Satish Kumar Sharma (Rs 114.29 crore).

Thirteen candidates had declared “zero” assets. There are 411, which excludes contestants with zero assets, candidates who have declared assets below Rs 1 lakh.

Looking at the age profile, the analysis said, there were 3,334 (69%) candidates between 25 and 50 years while 1,440 (30%) were between 51 and 80 years. Seven candidates have declared they are more than 80 years old.

It also said 1,991 (41%) candidates have declared their educational qualification to be between Class V pass and Class XII pass, while 2,299 (48%) candidates have declared having an educational qualification of graduate and above. The analysis also showed that 356 (7%) candidates have declared themselves to be just literate and 54 candidates are illiterates.

(An edited version appeared in Deccan Herald on Mar 6, 2017)

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