As many as 101 (9 per cent) of the total 1,145 candidates contesting Punjab elections have pending criminal cases against them. Data released by the Delhi-based NGO Association of Democratic Reforms (ADR) and Punjab Election Watch (PEW) here on Sunday reveals 78 candidates have serious criminal cases pending against them wherein four candidates are facing murder charges, 11 attempt to murder charges and six face charges of crime against women.

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Prof Jagdeep Chhokar, retired from IIM Ahmedabad and founder member of ADR, said, “As per our data for 2007 and 2012 Punjab assembly elections, this time there are lesser number of candidates in fray with pending criminal cases.” As per ADR, four main parties including the Congress, SAD, BJP and BSP had fielded 52 candidates each in 2007 as well as 2012 Punjab assembly elections with pending criminal cases. But the number has drastically come down to 34 in 2017.

As many as 428 (37%) candidates contesting Punjab elections are crorepatis, 41 are illiterate, 207 have not even passed matric and six have doctorate degrees. 71 candidates are between 25-30 years and 35 candidates are between 71-80.

Though most of the political parties are promising 33 per cent reservation to women in panchayats and urban local bodies but there are hardly 81 women (7 per cent) contesting assembly elections.

Congress has fielded highest number of 14 candidates with pending criminal cases, AAP has given ticket to 12, SAD to 10, Aapna Punjab Party to 7, SAD (Amritsar) to 5, BJP to 2 and there are 20 Independents with criminal cases. Those facing murder charges are Congress’s Navjot Singh Sidhu from Amritsar East, Independents Shiv Lal Doda and Amit Doda from Abohar and Jasbir Singh, an Independent from Patiala.

Candidates with attempt to murder cases include Narinder Singh of Aapna Punjab Party from Amritsar East, Kikar Singh of BSP from Jaitu(SC), Kamal Jit Singh Karwal of Congress from Atam Nagar, Gurpreet Singh Kangar of Congress from Rampura Phul, Simranjit Singh Bains of Lok Insaaf Party from Atam Nagar, Vir Singh of SAD from Raja Sansi, Jaswant of SAD(Amritsar) from Ludhiana East, Shiv Lal Doda independent candidate from Abohar, Amit Doda independent candidate from Abohar, Sharanjit Singh independent candidate from Raja Sansi and Swaran Singh independent candidate from Jalalabad.

Those who have pending cases of crime against women include AAP candidate from Mansa Sukhwinder Singh, Sukhbinder Singh Sarkaria of Congress from Raja Sansi, Manjit of Bhartiya Republican Paksha from Jalandhar Cantt., Daljeet Singh an independent candidate from Sahnewal and Avtar Singh of SAD(Amritsar) from Talwandi Sabo.

Navjot Singh Sidhu of Congress from Amritsar East has declared highest income of Rs 9.90 crore in 2015-16 Income Tax Return followed by Abohar independent candidate Shiv Lal Doda (Rs. 5.34 crore) and AAP’s Sunam candidate Aman Arora (Rs. 4.23 crore).

SAD has highest number of 93% crorepatis candidates followed by 88% from Congress and 87% from BJP. Here also AAP has fielded 63% crorepatis just opposite to its name. Congress’ Rana Gurjit Singh from Kapurthala has declared highest assets amounting to Rs.169 crore followed by Rs.141 crore by an independent from Abohar Shiv Lal Doda (behind bars in Bhim Tank murder case), Rs.119 crore by Congress’ Karan Kaur from Muktsar and Rs.102 crore by Deputy CM Sukhbir Singh who is SAD candidate from Jalalabad.

There are six red alert constituencies in Punjab which have three or more candidates with declared criminal cases against them include Ludhiana East, Bholath, Amritsar West (SC), Talwandi Sabo, Raja Sansi and Lambi.

Seven candidates who have declared zero assets in their affidavits are BSP’s Avtar Singh from Patti, Aapna Punjab Party’s Rampal Singh from Payal (SC), SAD (Amritsar) candidate Kulwant Singh from Majitha, independent candidates Sarabjit Singh (Sri Hargobindpur), Kashmir Singh (Ferozepur city) and Kulwant Kaur (Sanaur).

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