New Delhi

NEW DELHI: Has Aam Aadmi Party, which came into existence with the aim of cleansing politics, preferred "winnability" over probity? It appears so since as many as 23 of its candidates contesting the Delhi elections have criminal cases pending against them, according to the Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR).
Of course, AAP's rivals in the hotly fought battle for Delhi fare no better. In fact, BJP, despite PM Narendra Modi's pre-poll declaration that criminal cases against netas will be fast-tracked, leads all other parties in fielding candidates with criminal cases. It has 27 (39% of total) such nominees while Congress has 21.
In all, 17% of all candidates in the fray have criminal cases against them, up from 14% in 2008 and 16% in 2013, ADR said after analysing election affidavits filed by all 673 contestants.
ADR also found that BJP's chief ministerial nominee, Kiran Bedi, ranks eighth among candidates with the highest annual income (combined income of her spouse, her and dependent) amounting to Rs 67 lakh, while AAP CM candidate Arvind Kejriwal has 10 criminal cases pending against him including those of defamation, deterring public servant from duty and rioting.
It said the number of crorepatis in the fray had risen to 34%, up from 23% in 2008 and 33% in 2013.
Of the 114 candidates 74 of them have declared serious criminal cases against them including murder, attempt to murder, assault, kidnapping and crimes against women.
Among the candidates with the highest number of cases pending against them are Shoaib Iqbal, contesting on a Congress ticket from Matia Mahal, with 13 cases against him. He is followed by Congress candidate from Okhla, Asif Mohammed Khan, with seven cases and BSP's Surendra Kumar from Gokalpur who has declared two cases.
The use of money power has also gone up in the Delhi polls. Congress fielded the maximum of 59 crorepatis while BJP and AAP have fielded 44 and 28 crorepatis each. The richest candidate is Shiromani Akali Dal's Manjinder Singh Sirsa from Rajouri Garden constituency with total assets worth more than Rs 239 crore, followed by AAP's Parmila Tokas contesting from RK Puram and BJP's Sat Prakash Rana contesting from Bijwasan constituency. They have assets worth Rs 87 crore and 78 crore, respectively.
ADR's co-founder Jagdeep Chhokar pointed out that 62 candidates have declared assets worth more than Rs 10 crore.
The parties don't fare too well in gender equality either. The number of women candidates are 66 or 10%, only a marginal increase from 9% in 2008 and 2013.

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