Business Standard
Raghav Aggarwal
New Delhi

One in every five candidates in Lok Sabha elections 2024 has declared criminal cases against them

As many as 31 per cent of the 8,337 candidates in the 2024 Lok Sabha elections have assets of more than Rs 1 crore, said a report by a civil society group on Wednesday. The percentage of ‘crorepati’ candidates has doubled from 16 per cent in 2009.

As many 27 per cent of candidates were crorepatis in the 2014 elections and 29 per cent five years later, according to the Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR)

Out of these, 12 per cent (1,018) had assets worth over Rs 5 crore. Another 9 per cent (757) had assets worth Rs 2-5 crore.

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) had the highest share of crorepati candidates at 92 per cent. India’s governing party was followed by the Congress (89 per cent) and 52 per cent in the Communist Party of India (Marxist).

The average assets per candidate in 2024 is Rs 6.23 crore, compared to Rs 4.14 crore in the 2019 elections. In 2014 and 2009, the average was Rs 4.92 crore and Rs 1.11 crore.

In the BJP, the average assets per candidate is Rs 41.26 crore. It is followed by Rs 24.72 crore in Congress and Rs 2.66 crore in Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP).

In this year's general elections, BJP has fielded a total of 440 candidates and Congress 327. From BSP and CPI (M), the total number of candidates are 487 and 52 respectively. 

Chandra Sekhar Pemmasani, who is contesting in Andhra Pradesh's Guntur for the Telugu Desam Party, is the richest candidate with assets worth more than Rs 5,705 crore.

Pemmasani is followed by Konda Vishweshwar Reddy, a  BJP candidate in Telangana’s Chevella constituency, and Pallavi Shrinivas Dempo, the BJP candidate in South Goa. Reddy has assets worth Rs 4,568 crore and Dempo of Rs 1,361 crore.

As many 46 candidates have declared they have “zero” assets and 767 had below Rs 1 lakh.

Randhir Singh, an independent candidate in Haryana's Rohtak, had the lowest assets (worth Rs 2). He was followed by two other independent candidates: Katta Anand Babu in Andhra Pradesh's Bapatla and Mohammad Sultan Ganaie in Jammu & Kashmir's Baramulla with assets worth Rs 7 and Rs 67 respectively.

Women candidates’ participation

ADR's analysis showed that of all Lok Sabha candidates in 2024, only 10 per cent are women. The share is marginally better than 9 per cent in 2019 and 8 per cent in 2014. In 2009, 7 per cent of all candidates were women.

One in every five candidates has declared criminal cases against them

ADR said that out of all the candidates, 1,643 or 20 per cent have declared criminal cases against themselves. This is higher than 19 per cent in 2019, 17 per cent in 2014 and 15 per cent in 2009.

Moreover, 14 per cent (1,191) of candidates in 2024 have declared "serious" criminal cases against them. These cases include that of rape, murder, attempt to murder, kidnapping, crimes against women etc.

In 2019 and 2014 it was 13 per cent and 11 per cent respectively. In 2009, the percentage of candidates with serious criminal cases was 8 per cent. Ninety-eight candidates this year have declared cases where they have been convicted.

BJP's K Surendran, who is contesting from Kerala's Wayanad, has the highest number of declared criminal cases against him at 243. He is followed by BJP's Ernakulam and Barrackpur candidates KS Radhakrishnan (211) and Arjun Singh (93).

Of all parties, CPI(M) had the highest percentage of candidates with declared criminal cases at 63 per cent. It was followed by 44 per cent in the Congress and 43 per cent in the BJP.

"All major parties contesting in Lok Sabha Elections 2024 have given tickets from 13 per cent to 75  per cent candidates who have declared criminal cases against themselves," said ADR.

In 2020, the Supreme Court asked political parties to give reasons for such selection and why other inpiduals without criminal antecedents could not be selected as candidates.

"This data clearly shows that political parties have no interest in reforming the electoral system and our democracy will continue to suffer at the hands of lawbreakers who become lawmakers," said ADR .

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