The New Indian Express

 In 2009, 11 per cent of the candidates contesting in 17 Lok Sabha constituencies of Telangana region had criminal cases and in 2014, the percentage increased to 18 per cent.

In this year’s Lok Sabha elections, 49 out of 265 candidates, contesting in the region, have declared pending criminal cases against themselves, out of whom 33 candidates declared serious criminal cases,  representatives of Andhra Pradesh Election Watch said here at a press conference citing the analysis of affidavits submitted by nominated MP candidates.

In the analysis jointly took up by the Election Watch and Association of Democratic Reforms (ADR), they categorised criminal cases under serious category as offences  related to murder, kidnap, assault, rape etcetera, offences for which maximum punishment of five years or more can be imposed, if it is a non-bailable charge.

Speaking about the spike in criminal cases, Rakesh Reddy Dubbudu, state coordinator, of Andhra Pradesh Election Watch, said that the increase could be because of cases filed against candidates for participating in Telangana agitation.

Citing analysis results of finances declared by the candidates, the representatives said 135 candidates have not declared income tax details. “When we asked Income Tax officials about details of the candidates finances, they refused to give the information. When complained to Central Information Commission, we were told that the information cannot be given without consent of the third party,” said Rao Chelikani, vice president, Forum for Good Governance.

He added that the sole reason for presenting the information is to make people aware about background of the candidates who are contesting in their constituencies. ‘’Seventy four candidates are crorepatis, by that we do not intend to say that their background can be suspected. Voters should consider all aspects of a candidate before choosing one and how they earned money,” Rao said.

“By comparing affidavits filed the candidates in 2009 and 2014 elections, voters should observe if there has been massive increase in assets of a candidate. It could be because of increase in value of assets, but there might be other reasons for the increase, which voters need to find out. How much did a candidate earn after getting into power needs to be observed,” said Rakesh adding they got calls from people of various districts stating there is no match between assets declared and possessed by a candidate.

Rakesh opined that through this analysis, voters will at least get to know whether a candidate has been honest in declaring his assets.

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