Twenty-five of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) legislators in Rajasthan have criminal cases registered against them, while the Congress has six such MLAs representing it in the state assembly, according to a report by the Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR).

Maj Gen (retd) Anil Verma of the National Election Watch, who shared the details of the report with the media Monday, said that two of the seven Independent MLAs are facing criminal cases of serious nature, which includes attempt to murder, rape or kidnapping. Of the 25 BJP MLAs with criminal cases, 16 have serious charges against them.

The election watch and the ADR have brought out two reports – one that looked at the criminal background, financial and educational status of the sitting MLAs, while the other on their performance in the assembly.

Between 2008 and 2013, the percentage of MLAs with criminal cases increased from 8% to 16% in the BJP and from 16% to 24% in the Congress.

Of the total 197 MLAs in the assembly, 25 (or 13%) are women. Scanned affidavits of three MLAs were “illegible” and were thus kept out of the survey, an official informed. In 2008, there were 28 (or 14%) women legislators.

The number of ‘crorepati’ MLAs stands at 141 or (71.5%) as compared to 90 (or 46%) according to the affidavits filed before the 2013 elections.

Of the BJP’s 157 MLAs, 115 (or 73%) are ‘crorepatis’, while 16 of the 25 Congress MLAs (64%) hold assets in excess of one crore rupees. All four MLAs of the National People’s Party are ‘crorepatis’, with average assets worth Rs 4.53 crore.

The average assets held by an MLA in the BJP is Rs 4.33 crore while it is Rs 8.39 crore for the Congress.

Renuka Pamecha of Rajasthan Election Watch said they are demanding an accountability law. “If a NREGA labourer doesn’t work, he is penalised. But what penalty is imposed on a government official or an MLA who doesn’t work?” she asked.

“We are demanding that an accountability law be brought in,” she said. Pamecha said around one lakh signatures from citizens have been collected and submitted to the government along with a draft citing people’s demand for an accountability law. “The government set up a committee but nothing happened,” she said.

Kavita Srivastava of the People’s Union for Civil Liberties said the organisation demands that 35% of the tickets be given to women candidates. She said the electoral rolls would be updated until 10 days before the polling and people who have been left out should get their names included. Srivastava also urged the election commission to issue voter ID cards to homeless people.

The ADR’s report on the legislators’ performance said 185 MLAs had asked a total of 42,425 questions in the 139 days that the assembly sat between 2014 and 2018, during which the 14th legislative assembly saw 11 sessions being held. The state’s 13th assembly had sat for 119 days between 2009 and 2013. The longest session lasted 26 sittings – from February 25, 2015 to April 9, 2015.

National Election Watch’s Verma said the average number of questions asked by each party was 185 for the BJP, 206 for the Bahujan Samaj Party, 260 for the Congress, 282 for the NPP, 399 for the Independents, and 411 for the National Unionist Zamindara Party.

BJP spokesperson Mukesh Pareek said his party was “not in favour of giving tickets to candidates with criminal backgrounds”. He said cases against party MLAs were those related to agitation on public issues.

Asked about the charges of murder against ministers Rajendra Rathore and Gulab Chand Kataria, the BJP leader said both had been cleared by the courts. “Charges being framed and charges being proved are two different things. If anyone is not proven guilty, how can we say they are guilty,” he argued.

State congress spokesperson Archana Sharma said she was “not aware of the cases” but added that the Congress has “promised to instil probity in politics”.

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