Arun Kumar

The number of candidates with criminal records elected to the Bihar assembly increased this time, according to the report of the Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) and Election Watch, which was released on Wednesday.

Out of the 241 newly elected leaders from all parties, 163 (68%) have declared criminal cases, says the report. Two candidates could not be analysed.

This is higher than the last time as out of 243 MLAs analysed during Bihar assembly elections in 2015, 142(58%) MLAs had declared criminal cases against themselves.

A total of 123 (51%) winning candidates declared serious criminal cases this year, compared to 98 five years ago, said the report. This year, 19 candidates have declared murder cases against themselves, while 31 reported attempt to murder cases and eight crime against women.

In the first phase, out of 1,066 candidates in the fray, 327 had declared criminal cases. In the second phase, the percentage went up from 31% to 34%, with 502 of the 1463 candidates reporting criminal cases against them, including 389 (27%) reporting cases of serious nature. In the third and final phase, out of 1204 candidates in fray, ADR-Election Watch analysed 1,195 candidates, out of which 371 (31%) declared criminal cases and 282 (24%) serious criminal cases.

Before the polls, the EC directive had sought greater accountability from political parties to check the problem of criminalization of politics. It directed candidates and parties to mandatorily publicise pending criminal cases through advertisements in a local and a national newspaper, besides official social media platforms of the political party, and explain reasons for fielding them. “However, even on that count the compliance was low and the EC has served show cause notices to over 100 such candidates and later issued a general notice for all to comply, failing which it would be reported as violation,” said an EC official.

During the Lok Sabha election also, a similar trend was witnessed. A recent analysis by ADR and Bihar Election Watch (BEW) says that since 2005, out of 10,785 candidates who contested either Lok Sabha or state Assembly elections in the state, 3,230 (30%) declared criminal cases against themselves, while 2,204 (20%) declared serious criminal cases against themselves

The number of crorepati candidates also witnessed an increase. Out of 243 candidates, 163 (67%) were crorepati in 2015, while it has jumped to 194 (81%) in 2020. The average asset of winning candidates in the state was Rs 4.32-crore, while 61 candidates had assets above Rs 5-crore.

Anant Singh, who won for the fourth time on the RJD ticket , was the richest candidate with movable and immovable assets worth Rs 65-crore.

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