The Association of Democratic Reforms (ADR) and Himachal Pradesh Election Watch analysed the criminal background, financial, education, gender and other details of candidates standing in the fray for the Himachal Pradesh Assembly state elections which is being held today across 68 seats.
ADR, the election watchdog analysed the self-sworn affidavits of all 412 candidates who are contesting in the election. Out of all the candidates analysed, 201 are from national parties, 67 are from regional parties, 45 are from registered unrecognised parties, and 99 candidates are contesting independently.
The Congress Crorepatis
Ahead of the state polls, the national election watchdog said in its latest report that more than 50 percent of candidates are crorepatis, compared to 47 percent in the 2017 state assembly election. Among the major parties, the Congress has fielded 61 crorepati candidates out of 68, while the ruling BJP has 82 percent crorepati nominees standing for polls.
Out of the 67 regional party candidates, the Arvind Kejriwal-led Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) has fielded 35 (52 percent) crorepati candidates, while 4 (36 percent) out of 11 candidates analysed from the Communist Party of India (Marxist) (CPI(M)) and 13 (25 percent) out of 53 candidates from the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) have declared assets valued at more than Rs 1 crore.
The report further added that the BJP’s Balveer Singh Verma, who is contesting from Shimla’s Chapal, tops the list of crorepatis with assets worth Rs 128 crores. The Congress’s Vikramaditya Singh, who is the son of former chief minister Virbhadra Singh, is second to Verma, with a net worth of Rs 101 crores.
In terms of party-wise assets among all major parties, the average assets per candidate for the Congress were valued as Rs 11.82 crores. The average for each BJP candidate was valued at Rs 7.30 crores, followed by Rs 4.08 crores for the CPI(M), Rs 3.71 crores for the AAP, and Rs 86.07 lakhs for the BSP.
Another report revealed that out of the 58 MLAs seeking re-election, the assets of 49 MLAs (84 percent) increased in the range of five percent to 167 percent. The average assets of these 58 MLAs, including independents and members of different parties contesting the re-election, were valued at Rs 9.30 crores in 2017, but their average assets increased to Rs 12.08 crores for this year’s state assembly polls.
94 Candidates With Criminal Backgrounds
The ADR also analysed criminal backgrounds of the self-attested affidavits submitted by the Himachal candidates. The report found that overall 94 out of 421 candidates (23 percent) have declared criminal cases against themselves. In the 2017 assembly polls, 61 candidates held criminal backgrounds.
Ironically, five candidates have said in their affidavits that they are facing cases related to crimes against women, while two candidates have declared cases related to murder (IPC section 302).
With 36 nominees, the Congress has fielded the highest number of criminal background candidates among all the parties. 12 such candidates are from the BJP and the AAP each.
This year, at least 50 candidates (12 percent) have declared serious criminal cases against themselves, compared to 31 (9 percent) in the last assembly polls.
Among the major parties, 17 candidates from the Congress declared serious criminal cases against themselves, followed by 6 from the BJP and the AAP each, and 5 from the CPI (M). At least 12 independent candidates also said in their affidavits that they are facing serious criminal cases against themselves.
Only 24 Women Candidates Out Of 412
A huge gender gap can be seen in ticket distribution for the Himachal Pradesh Assembly election. Out of 412 candidates, only 24 (6 percent) female candidates are contesting this year, compared to 19 out of the 338 candidates in the 2016 assembly polls.
The Congress fielded only three women candidates, followed by six fielded by the BJP and five by the AAP. The CPI(M) has fielded no women candidates in this election.
In terms of education details of the Himachal Pradesh candidates, at least 154 (37 percent) candidates have declared their educational qualifications to be between the 5th and 12th class. While 246 (60 percent) candidates have declared having an educational qualification of graduate or above, eight (2 percent) candidates are diploma holders, and two candidates have declared themselves to be just literate.
Interestingly, the ADR claimed in another report that the Congress fielded the highest number of candidates with criminal backgrounds among all the parties in Gujarat, in 2014. The report claimed that a total of 6,043 candidates from different parties with criminal backgrounds have contested either in the state or Parliamentary polls in Gujarat since 2014, out of which, 685 candidates won the elections.
The report analysed that the Congress has fielded 659 candidates with criminal backgrounds in Gujarat since 2014, out of which 212 candidates held their seats either in the state assembly or the Parliament. The ruling BJP, on the other hand, had 162 MLAs or MPs with criminal backgrounds from Gujarat during the same period.