The Times Of India

AGARTALA: About 88% of poll contestants in Tripura, including finance minister Badal Chowdhury, have never filed income tax returns.

This was revealed by B B Senapati, the chairman of National Election Watch's (NEW) Tripura chapter, while releasing a report on Sunday. Senapati, also former law secretary of state, said Babul Banik of SUCI from Suryamaninagar has declared zero assets, Pranesh Das of Amraa Bangalee from Pabiachara has assets of only Rs 100 and Shibani Bhaumik of SUCI(C) from Town Bardowali has assets worth Rs 500.

According to the report, nine candidates, including state finance minister Badal Chowdhury and four others from CPM, three from Congress and one from BJP, haven't furnished their PAN number in their affidavits despite having assets more than Rs 40 lakh.

Senapati expressed concern over the profile of the candidates, which indicated an uneven growth of assets among a few sitting MLAs, increasing the presence of criminals in the fray. Senapati said out of 218 candidates in the fray this time, the ruling CPM has the maximum number of candidates 51 of 55 (93%), followed by the BJP with 46 of 50 (92%) candidates.

He added that as per the provisions, the contestants were legally required to furnish their financial details, but they did not adhere to it.

"Despite having handsome assets, Dilip Sarkar of Congress, who is contesting from Badharghat (SC) constituency, has never filed IT returns. Dilip's total assets of Rs 4.58 crore is followed by Bilal Mia of Congress from Boxanagar with assets of Rs 3.06 crore and Sujit Paul an independent from Town Bardowali with Rs 1.82 crore," said Senapati.

The report, however, underlined that the percentage of candidates with criminal antecedents had also increased to 8 per cent from 2 per cent in the previous assembly polls in 2008. The Congress has 13 out of 48 (27%), BJP has 1 out of 50 (2 per cent), CPM has1 out of 55 (%t). Out of these, there are criminal cases against 19 candidates but charges have been framed only against 12.

Altogether 16 crorepatis, including 12 from the Congress, 2 Independents and 1 from CPI-M, are in the fray. There was an increase in the percentage of assets five ruling party legislators which include Subodh Das, Keshab Debbarma, Aghore Debbarma (agriculture minister), Naryan Chandra Chowdhury and Nirajoy Tripura.

Out of 249 candidates, only 94 (38%) are graduates or have higher degrees that includes 26 from the ruling Left Front and 30 from Congress. Apart from this, one each from Congress and BJP are illiterate and 12 candidates, including 2 from CPM, have studied till Class V.

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