At least 262 of the 1,391 candidates, or 19 per cent, contesting in the third phase of the 16th Lok Sabha elections on April 10 have a criminal past, according to an analysis of their affidavits.
Surprisingly, it is not the big badlands of Uttar Pradesh or Bihar that have the most number of criminal background candidates. That tag goes to Kerala, otherwise known for its near cent per cent literacy; 29 per cent of the state's candidates in the election's third phase have criminal cases registered against them.
Another surprise — from the analysis of self-sworn affidavits of 1,391 candidates by Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) — is that even Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) candidates have criminal cases registered against them. AAP has been fighting on the plank of its clean candidates and anti-corruption platform, but 15 of the party's 78 candidates or 19 per cent, have a criminal past.
In all, 147 candidates have declared that they face serious criminal cases, related to murder, rape, robbery and other offences. As per the affidavits, 38 of the BJP's 80 candidates (48%) have criminal cases registered against them while 21 of the Congress' 72 candidates (29%) have a criminal background. Of the BSP's 89 candidates, 16, or 18 per cent face criminal cases.
The third phase will see polling across 91 constituencies in 13 states and union territories.
ADR also looked at the candidates' assets and said that 397 or 29 per cent, are multimillionaires; Uttar Pradesh leads the multimillionaire candidates' club with 45 per cent of them in the fray. Congress' Naveen Jindal (assets worth more than Rs 306 crore) and Kamal Nath (assets worth Rs 206 crore) and BSP's Malook Nagar (assets worth more than Rs 289 crore) are the richest candidates in the third phase.
The average value of assets of candidates in the third phase is Rs 3.05 crore. The Congress leads in the number of candidates who have declared assets worth more than Rs 1 crore; with 82 per cent (59 of 72 candidates). In the same category, the BJP has 68 per cent (54 of 80 candidates), the AAP has 46 per cent (36 of 78 candidates), and the BSP has 38 per cent (34 of 89 candidates). Among the Independents, 83 of 549 candidates, 15 per cent, have declared assets worth more than Rs 1 crore.
A total of 116 candidates have declared assets less than Rs 1 lakh and 17 candidates have no assets.
Ramanuj Patel of Samyak Parivartan Party in Delhi has declared assets worth around Rs 100; Independent candidate Shaikh Jabbar Shaikh Usuf in Maharashtra has declared assets worth around Rs 500 and NK Biju of Kerela has assets worth around Rs 750.