Deccan Herald
R Gopakumar

About three-fourth of Kerala's ruling legislators have criminal cases pending against them and a quarter of them face the three serious charges of murder, kidnapping and extortion, according to the National Election Watch.

A report by the election watchdog claims that out of the 69 legislators with criminal cases pending against them, 44 belong to the ruling Communist Party of India (Marxist) and 13 to its ally, the Communist Party of India.

Serious criminal cases have been registered against seven cabinet ministers too. The Congress has some scope for relief as only two of its members have criminal charges against them while the Indian Union Muslim League (IUML) surprisingly has none.

The rest belong to smaller parties like JD(S), RSP, KC(M), KC, JSS and KC(S).

PAN details

Out of the 140 MLAs, 111 had not declared details of their permanent account number (PAN) used for filing income tax returns, suggesting that a vast majority of them were tax evaders.

There were eight millionaire MLAs, two each belonging to Kerala Congress and Janata Dal(S) while CPI and IUML have a crorepati MLA each, that is having assets worth more than Rs 10 million, according to the affidavits filed with the Election Commission.

However, there is some relief for the ruling side. The average asset per ruling legislator is almost half that of the Opposition UDF.

For the Kerala Congress, it was Rs 10 million, the JD(S) Rs 9.3 million, the IUML Rs 5.1 million, KC (M) Rs 4 million and that of the Congress party was Rs 2.3 million while the assets of an average CPM legislator were worth Rs 1.4 million.

Murder cases

Among the ministers with criminal records, Public Works Development Minister M Vijayakumar (CPM) faces charges of attempt to murder and robbery and sale of obscene objects to young persons while Food Minister C Divakaran (CPI) and Industry Minister Elamaram Kareem have cases of attempted murder and culpable homicide against them.

Association for Democratic Reforms director and Dean of IIM Bangalore, Prof Trilochan Sastry and Kerala Election Watch patron Lt Gen S K Pillai said the group had made elaborated arrangements to make the upcoming assembly elections more transparent.

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