The Times of India

BANGALORE: With just a week left for polling day, two election watchdogs have come up with some eye-opening facts about candidates in the fray. The analysis by the Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) and Karnataka Election Watch (KEW) shows that parties, including the state's major ones, continue to field candidates with serious criminal records. The assets declared by candidates are also listed.

13% declare criminal cases

A whopping 434 candidates are contesting from battleground Karnataka. Of these, 55 candidates (13%) across parties have declared their involvement in criminal cases in their affidavits. Thirty (7%) other contestants have been charged in serious offences, including attempt to murder, crimes against women and criminal intimidation. Two candidates among the 432 have escaped the scrutiny of the watchdogs because their affidavits were either not found or were incomplete.

As many as six of the 28 candidates fielded by Congress have declared criminal cases against them in their affidavits. Nine BJP contestants, eight of the 25 from JD(S) and 14 out of 194 independent candidates have also declared cases against them.

Eight out of 28 constituencies in the state have been earmarked as red alert constituencies by ADR analysis as each of these have at least three candidates with declared criminal cases.

The controversial Pramod Muthalik, who is contesting as independent candidate from Bangalore South and Dharwad parliamentary constituencies after his quick entry and exit from BJP, is involved in eight cases. Three of the charges relate to promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, race, place of birth, residence, language etc and doing acts of prejudicial maintenance of harmony.

Ditto with B Sreeramulu, contesting on the BJP ticket from Bellary. Among the eight cases against him are attempt to murder, criminal intimidation and assault using dangerous weapons.

Rajagiri TD, the BSP candidate from Chitradurga, has declared his case involving assault of a woman with intent to outrage her modesty. Dr Bhanuprakash K, an independent candidate from Hassan, is charged in a dowry harassment.

IT honchos raise asset value

They may be newbies in politics but IT honchos Nandan Nilekani and V Balakrishnan have raised the average asset level of candidates of their parties respectively. The two have made it to the top three of the richest political aspirants this election season.

The ADR and KEW analysis of 432 candidates from Karnataka shows 117 (27%) are millionaires. Average asset value per candidate in this election stands at Rs 22.98 crore.

Nilekani, contesting from Bangalore South on Congress ticket, tops the chart with assets worth Rs 7,710 crore. He is followed distantly by R Prabhakara Reddy of JD(S) with Rs 224 crore and V Balakrishnan from AAP with Rs 189 crore of assets. Reddy is contesting in Bangalore Rural and Balakrishnan from Bangalore Central constituencies.

Congress, as a party, is the richest with average asset value of 28 candidates at Rs 293.75 crore. JD(S) candidates are valued at Rs 30.4 crore while 28 BJP candidates have average assets worth Rs 14.65 crore. The average asset value of all 28 AAP candidates comes to Rs 8.49 crore.

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