Election Watch finds innovative way to attract voters using money power

The BJP has fielded the highest number of ‘crorepatis’ in the 2017 Uttar Pradesh urban body election, according to data analysed by an NGO.

It also had the highest number of candidates with criminal record.

Voting for 452 municipal posts, including 16 Mayoral posts, will be held in three phases starting November 22.

Counting will be on December 1.

The data on assets were compiled by Election Watch of the Association for Democratic Reforms, which analyses elections and builds public awareness.

Four out of 14, or 29%, of the BJP’s mayoral candidates in U.P. have criminal cases against them. The BSP comes a close second with 21%, or three out of 14 candidates.

The SP and the Congress shared the third position among the major parties: 13% of their Mayor candidates have criminal records. The AAP has only one such candidate.

Overall, 20 of the 195 candidates across U.P. for the Mayor posts have criminal records against them, 17 of them of a serious nature. Chaudhary Basheer, an independent candidate from Agra, topped the table with six criminal cases under his belt.

None of the candidates in Lucknow, reserved for women this time, has a criminal background.

The BJP shared the honours for candidates with the highest declared assets with the BSP.

Seventy-nine percent of the candidates fielded by the BJP and BSP are crorepatis. It is 73% in the case of SP and the Congress.

Overall, across U.P., 70 out of 195, or 38% of the candidates, are declared crorepatis. Navin Kumar Jain, the BJP candidate in Agra, was by far the richest with assets worth ₹409 crore, followed by his party colleague Abhilasha Gupta from Allahabad who declared ₹58 crore. Brijendra Vyas Damdam Maharaj, the BSP nominee in Jhansi, was the third richest with assets worth ₹37 crore.

Anil Sharma, coordinator, U.P. Election Watch, said while there was the usual display of money power in the municipal polls, which include Nagar Palika Parishads and Nagar Panchayats, some candidates resorted to innovative ways to escape the radar of the Election Commission.

If a candidate was distributing biryani in Jhansi, another in Gorakhpur was giving out free footballs.

In Moradabad, a candidate tried to lure voters by distributing brass items, while in Lucknow, a candidate gifted wall clocks in his ward. In Ambedkarnagar, the ADR found, candidates were distributing free biryani and liquor.

A good sign

The Election Watch also observed that voters this year seemed to consider the credentials of the candidate, instead of merely focusing on party affiliations.

“People have shown a tendency to back good candidates. It is a good sign,” said Sanjay Singh, coordinator of the Election Watch. But how did he come to this conclusion? “It was based on a focused group discussion involving 500 people,” he said.

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