The New Indian Express

A fifth of the candidates in fray for the Parliamentary constituencies in the first phase has criminal cases registered against them, the Odisha Election Watch (OEW) informed on Wednesday.

Out of 97 candidates, at least 19 have declared criminal cases, most of which pertain to unlawful blockade, obstruction, damage to property and rioting.

Thirteen candidates have serious criminal cases including cases of murder, attempt to murder and criminal intimidation, coordinator of the the election watch Ranjan Mohanty told mediapersons.

The data was analysed from the affidavits of the candidates. The analysis said 40 per cent of candidates fielded by BJP, 10 per cent by Congress and 20 per cent of BJD have criminal cases pending against them. Similarly, 38 per cent candidates of Aam Aadmi Party have criminal cases against them.

Moreover, 20 per cent of candidates fielded by BJP and BJD and 38 per cent of AAP candidates have declared serious criminal cases against them in their affidavits, Mohanty added.

According to information analysed by OEW, one-fifth of the candidates have not studied beyond Class XII. While 12 candidates have cleared Class X, five have passed Class VIII. One is barely literate, core team member of OEW Sahadev Sahoo said.

The age profile of the Lok Sabha candidates also shows that most are above 40. Of 97 candidates, 19 are in the age group of 31-40 while there are two in 25-30 age bracket. One candidate has not declared his age.

The analysis revealed that candidates of major parties are very rich compared to the electorate they are trying to represent.

The average assets of Biju Janata Dal candidates were found to be Rs 8.32 crore while the figure for Congress was Rs 3.2 crore. The average wealth of a BJP candidate was Rs 1.72 crore whereas contestants of newly formed Ama Odisha Party possess Rs 1.47 crore on an average.

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