The Times of India

GURGAON: Money power has clearly superseded muscle power in Haryana's politics. At least that's what the latest study by Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) on the outgoing assembly shows.

While the Haryana assembly had just half the number of legislators with criminal cases against them compared with the national average, the number of multi-millionaire candidates was higher than other states.

Only 17% of Haryana assembly members have criminal cases pending at various levels in courts, and as many as 75% MLAs are crorepatis.

This was particularly striking as ADR released similar figures for Maharashtra, where 52% candidates have criminal cases and despite being home to Mumbai, it had only 70% crorepati candidates. The national average of criminal legislators is 34%, and crorepati MLAs is 58%.

The analysis by ADR is based on information provided by candidates in affidavits submitted to the Election Commission in 2009.

Out of MLAs with criminal cases, 13 had declared serious charges like murder, attempt to murder, dacoity, kidnapping , forgery and extortion among others.

The hall of shame includes former Haryana chief minister Om Prakash Chautala and his son Ajay Chautala who are currently on bail in a teacher recruitment scam.

While Haryana's legislators boasted of an average asset of Rs 7.11 crore, Maharashtra MLAs had average of Rs 4.5 crore. Congress MLA, Venod Sharma, from Ambala was the richest in Haryana with assets worth Rs 87.4 crore.

Gurgaon resident and independent MLA from Sirsa, Gopal Kanda, was second richest with declared assets of Rs 63.2 crore. Kanda was also charged in serious criminal cases, including abetment of suicide of an airhostess who was employee of a now-defunct airline.

These crorepatis were accompanied by some financially humble counterparts. Indian National Lok Dal's MLA from Narwana, Pirthi Singh, with total assets of Rs 1.7 lakh was financially poorest. Another INLD leader, Phool Singh, from Guhla assembly segment, declared assets of just Rs 3.2 lakh.

As many as 22% MLAs didn't declare their PAN, a ten-digit unique number issued by income tax department, despite several campaigns by civil society groups.

One major social indicator where Haryana assembly fared poorly was representation of women. At a time when the country is debating to reserve one-third seats in all democratic institutions, the outgoing assembly had just 11% women MLAs.

In terms of education, Haryana assembly fared better with 60% graduate MLAs and 40% MLAs with school certificates.

Another positive indicator was that 45% legislators were between 30 and 50 years. As many as 52% MLAs declared their age to be between 51 and 70 years.

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