As many as 26 candidates with criminal cases and 41 crorepatis (multimillionaires) including independent nominee Shamali Das who has assets worth over Rs.2,000 crore are in the fray for the fifth and last phase of Lok Sabha polls in West Bengal.
With 187 candidates vying for honours, 17 constituencies spread across six districts of Murshidabad, Nadia, North 24 Parganas, South 24 Parganas, Kolkata and East Midnapore go the polls May 12 in the last phase of the 2014 general elections.
According to West Bengal Election Watch - a civil society initiative aiming at electoral reforms - of the 26 with criminal cases, 15 candidates face serious charges like murder, attempt to murder and kidnapping. The Bharatiya Janata Party (six) and ruling Trinamool Congress (five) have the most number of candidates with criminal background, followed by four from the Communist Party of India-Marxist and three from the Congress.
Congress MP from Baharampur in Murshidabad Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury is the lone candidate to face murder charges. BJP's PC Sorcar contesting from Barasat and Rahul Sinha from Kolkata North along with Congress' Dum Dum nominee Dhananjoy Mitra face cases relating to crimes against women.
As regards crorepati candidates, Trinamool leads here with 12 followed BJP (seven) and four each from the Congress and the CPI-M.
Shamali Das contesting from the twin seats of Jadavpur and Kolkata South with declared assets of worth over Rs.2,000 crore is the richest followed by Trinamool's Dev who possesses properties in excess of Rs.15 crore.
At the other end, Sougata Ghosh, contesting as an independent candidate from Diamond Harobour, has declared zero assets, while Indian Union Muslim League's Tamluk nominee Manik Chandra Mondal has assets valued at Rs.1,000. As many as 77 of the contestants have not declared income tax details, while 27 of them did not provide their PAN details.
On the brighter side, 120 candidates are graduates or possess higher degrees.