Staff Reporter

Bathinda, Patiala and Amritsar classified as ‘red alert seats’

Out of a total 218 candidates, 19 have a criminal background: National Election Watch

As many as 49 i.e. over 22 per cent of the candidates are ‘crorepatis’

CHANDIGARH: The elections in Punjab may be seen as a direct conflict between families of the Congress and the ruling SAD-BJP alliance, a look through the profiles of candidates presents a collage of ‘crorepatis’ and criminals.

According to The National Election Watch (NEW), out of a total of 218 candidates 19 have a criminal background, which is about 8.7 per well below the national average of about 15.5 per cent. Over 22 per cent of the candidates are ‘crorepatis’ but the State with a sorry sex ratio has only 13 female candidates, about 6 per cent.

NEW has classified Bathinda, Patiala and Amritsar as ‘red alert constituencies’ with three candidates each with criminal charges in the fray. The highest number of cases, as many as eight, are against Simranjot Singh Mann followed by Narian Singh (3), Raninder Singh (3), Karam Singh (2), Kumar (2) and Girdhari Lal (2).

Karamjit Singh and Navjot Sidhu are among those who have been convicted, Karamjit served 14 years for attempting to assassinate Rajiv Gandhi in 1986, Navjot Singh Sidhu was tried for the offence of murder relating to an incident that took place in 1988 but his conviction got stayed before the elections.

The State with a stagnating farm economy and receding industrial base boasts of 49 ‘crorepati’ candidates which form 22.5 per cent of the pool. The ‘crorepati’ list is headed by Harsimrat Kaur (SAD) with more than Rs 60 crores total assets, followed by Preneet Kaur (INC) with assets worth Rs 42 crore, Vinod Khanna (BJP) Rs 35 crore, Rana Gurjeet Singh (INC) Rs 34 crore, Swaran Singh (BSP) Rs 17 crore, Raninder Singh (INC) Rs 14 crore, Navjot Sidhu (BJP) Rs 14 crore and Hans Raj Hans (SAD) Rs 10 crore.

All 26 candidates belonging BJP, INC and SAD are ‘crorepatis’ without exception. The top three political parties in terms of richest candidates are BJP (17.2 crore), INC (9.6 crore) and SAD (9.1 crore). In Chandigarh no candidate has any criminal charges against them. There are seven ‘crorepatis’ out of the total 14 candidates in the fray. Amongst them eight are graduate or above and there is just one woman candidate fighting as an Independent.