Navhind Times

Goans are in no-win situation in selecting the right candidates to become their MLAs at the February 14 assembly elections.

According to a report released by the Association of Democratic Reforms (ADR), all political parties have fielded candidates with criminal backgrounds.

Furthermore the wealth of the politicians, who are re-contesting the elections, has grown multifold.

Some candidates hail from poor educational backgrounds, with a third among them being half-educated.

Pointing to a trend towards criminalisation of politics in the state, the ADR findings show that 53 (18%) out of the total 301 candidates have serious criminal cases against them for offences relating to assault, crime against women, rape, corruption, etc.

Comparatively, in the 2017 assembly elections, 19 out of the 251 candidates (8%) had serious criminal cases.

Taleigao politician Atanasio (Babush) Monserrate (BJP) is the only candidate with a rape case against him. The others with serious criminal background include Independent candidate Rama Kankonkar from St Andre constituency, Vinayak Gawas (MGP) from Sanvordem; Savio D’Silva (INC) from Velim and Sandeep Vazarkar (AITC), who is fighting the polls from Porvorim assembly segment. 

The election watchdog has identified 12 out of the 40 constituencies as ‘red alert’ constituencies, where three or more nominees have declared criminal cases against them. 

Mandrem, Mormugao, Sanvordem, Porvorim, Valpoi, Calangute, Pernem, Siolim, Navelim, Mapusa, Cumbharjua and Sanquelim are the ‘red alert’ constituencies.

The Congress has fielded the maximum number of candidates with criminal antecedents, followed by the BJP and the Trinamool Congress.

Pointing out that the role of money power is evident in the Goan elections, the findings show that all major political parties have nominated wealthy candidates.

The maximum number of crorepatis are from the BJP (95%), while the Congress and the MGP have 87% and 69% respectively crorepati candidates. 

The Goa Forward Party has 67% crorepati candidates and for the AITC it is 65%.

The Bardez heavyweight Michael Lobo, who is contesting from Calangute assembly segment, is the richest candidate with assets worth `93 crore. 

His wife Delilah Lobo, who is contesting from Siolim constituency on Congress ticket, also has equal asset base of `93 crore.

Lobo’s wealth trajectory after his joining politics has risen by leaps and bounds. In 2017, he had assets worth `54 crore, while presently he has nearly doubled his wealth.

Jaganath Gaonkar of the Jai Maha Bharat Party, who is contesting the polls from Siolim constituency, has the lowest asset base with total declared wealth of `25,000.

The overall gender report reveals that women are only 8% of the total number of candidates.

Age-wise maximum candidates are in the 41-50 years age bracket.

The educational backgrounds reveal that 30% of the candidates are not even 12 Standard passed, while 42% of the nominees are graduates and from higher education backgrounds.

The ADR findings were disclosed by Bhasker Assoldekar, Goa in-charge, in the presence of businessman Manguirish Pai Raiker.

Candidates in their affidavits have not been disclosing proper information as many are understating their income by not valuing their immovable assets at market price.

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