Times Of India

A total of 252 crorepati candidates are in the fray in the Uttarakhand polls this time, with Congress candidate from Laksar -- Antriksh Saini -- being the richest, with a net worth of Rs 123 crore. Meanwhile, Socialist Unity Centre of India (Communist) candidate from Srinagar (Garhwal) -- Sandeep Kumar -- is the poorest. Kumar has shown his annual income at just Rs 1,000.

These are the findings of the recently-released Association of Democratic Reforms (ADR) report. BJP with 60 crorepati candidates tops the list of richest candidates, followed by Congress (40), independents (40), AAP (31), BSP (18), Uttarakhand Kranti Dal (12) and SP (8).

The report is based on analysis of the affidavits of 626 of the 632 candidates in the race for the 70 assembly seats in the state.

Incidentally, BJP candidate from Chaubattakhal and incumbent tourism minister, Satpal Maharaj, is the second richest candidate in the fray with assets worth Rs 87 crore, while Uttarakhand Kranti Dal candidate from Srinagar (Garhwal), Mohan Kala is a close third, with total assets of Rs 83 crore.

On the other hand, SP candidate from Lohaghat, Nisar Khan, has declared assets worth only Rs 1,500 while Aakash Negi, who is the Right to Recall Party candidate from Kotdwar has declared assets worth Rs 4,548.

A total of 107 out of 626 candidates – which is 17% – have criminal antecedents, with 23 from the Congress, 13 BJP, 15 AAP, 10 BSP and 7 Uttarakhand Kranti Dal.

In 2017, 91 out of 637 candidates had a criminal background, which was 13% of the total number in the fray.

Out of the 107 candidates, 61 have cases of serious nature against them. Among them, 11 are from the Congress, 8 BJP, 9 AAP, 6 BSP and 4 Uttarakhand Kranti Dal.

According to the report, 140 candidates are graduates, 130 are post-graduates, 3 are illiterate, 26 literate, 15 class V pass, 61 class VIII pass, 68 class X pass, 100 class XII pass, 15 PhD holders and 7 diploma holders, with two contestants yet to furnish their educational qualifications.

A total of 38 candidates are in the age group of 25-30 years, 129 in the 31-40 years bracket, 184 in 41-50 years, 172 in 51-60 years, 86 in 61-70 years, 15 in 71-80 years and two are aged 81 and 100.

Commenting on the findings of the ADR report, Doon-based social activist, Anoop Nautiyal, told TOI, "The word 'crorepati' has become almost redundant in politics and each party haa several candidates who have holdings worth crores. Similarly, if we talk about criminal cases, politicians have the freedom to contest polls despite having criminal antecedents. In such a scenario, the responsibility increases on the voters to check the past performance of candidates and thereafter, use their vote judiciously."

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