'15 Chhattisgarh assembly candidates have criminal cases'

New Delhi, Nov 1 (IANS) As many as 15 candidates contesting the first phase of Chhattisgarh assembly polls have criminal cases registered against them, the Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) and the Chhattisgarh Election Watch (CEW) said Friday.

A total of 143 candidates will try their luck at the hustings in the first phase of assembly polls, to be held Nov 11.

According to an ADR-CEW analysis of the affidavits submitted by these candidates to the Election Commission, six of the 15 candidates have declared serious criminal charges against them, including murder, kidnapping, criminal intimidation and crime against women.

A party-wise break-up shows two of the total 18 (11 percent) candidates from the Congress, three of 18 (17 percent) from the Bharatiya Janata Party, two of 18 (11 percent) from the Bahujan Samaj Party and one of five (20 percent) from the Samajwadi Party have declared criminal cases in their affidavits.

According to the analysis, 25 candidates (17 percent) are multi-millionaires and the average asset per candidate is Rs.57.84 lakh.

Party-wise break-up shows the average asset per candidate is Rs.1.75 crore for the Congress (18 candidates), Rs.1.34 crore for the BJP's 18 candidates, Rs.10.11 lakh for the BSP's 18 candidates and Rs.9.42 lakh for the Samajwadi Party's five candidates.

Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Raman Singh (BJP) from Rajnandgaon constituency declared the highest income of Rs.32.26 lakh, followed by party colleague Dinesh Gandhi from Dongargaon constituency with an earning of Rs.13.66 lakh in the Income Tax Returns (ITR) filed for 2012-13 while Jhadu Ram Nareti of the Chhattisgarh Swabhiman Manch from Kanker showed an income of Rs.13.14 lakh for 2011-12.

Most candidates have claimed income tax exemption, said the ADR. According to the study, the average assets of 24 re-contesting candidates (who fought the 2008 elections and are again in the fray) was Rs.32.34 lakh in 2008 and is Rs.1.16 crore in 2013.

While the average asset growth for these re-contesting candidate is Rs.84.18 lakh, their average percentage asset rise is 260 percent.

Of these candidates, 12 are sitting MLAs. Their assets have grown 330 percent in the past five years.

While 10 sitting BJP MLAs have shown average asset increase of Rs.1.54 crore, it is Rs.61.31 lakh in the case of two Congress MLAs.

Educational profile shows 54 (38 percent) candidates are graduates or have higher degrees while 88 (62 percent) contestants are class 12 passouts.

Further, 104 (73 percent) candidates are in the 25-50 year age group while 36 (25 percent) are between 51 and 70 years. Only 11 (8 percent) women, including three from the Congress and two from the BJP, are contesting the first phase.

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