As many as 391 candidates contesting the elections to the Karnataka Legislative Assembly are facing criminal cases. Of them, 254 have serious criminal cases against them.
An analysis of the affidavits filed by 2,560 candidates before the Election Commission of India has revealed this. The analysis, taken up by the Karnataka Election Watch and the Association for Democratic Reforms, shows that four candidates have declared cases related to murder (Section 302 of the Indian Penal Code). As many as 23 candidates are facing cases related to crimes against women.
Trilochan Sastry of the ADR told reporters here on Sunday that they were able to analyse the affidavits of 2,560 of the total 2,655 candidates contesting the elections.
The affidavits of the remaining candidates could not be analysed as they were either incomplete or badly scanned. He said among the major parties, 83 of the 224 candidates of the BJP, 59 of the 220 candidates of the Congress, 41 of the 199 candidates of the Janata Dal (Secular) were facing criminal cases. Serious criminal cases (offence with maximum punishment of imprisonment for five or more and is non-bailable) have been booked against 58 candidates of the BJP, 32 of the Congress, and 29 of the JD(S). After revealing these details, Mr. Sastry sought to know how would the parties fight corruption when the candidates they had fielded were facing criminal charges.
He also said 25% of the constituencies — 56 segments — had been labelled as ‘Red Alert’ constituencies, where in three or more candidates have declared criminal cases against themselves. Some of the “Red Alert” constituencies are Shikaripur in Shivamogga district, Ballari City in Ballari district, Sringeri in Chikkamagaluru district, Molakalmur in Chitradurga district, and K.R. Puram, Rajarajeshwarinagar, Hebbal, Govindarajanagar, Malleswaram, Chamarajpet, and Gandhinagar in Bengaluru.
Mr. Sastry said the process of giving ticket to candidates by the various political parties must involve a democratic system, apart from being open and transparent. “We are going to the courts and are lobbying with the political parties in this regard,” he said. The ADR is an apolitical body, he said, and added that people should think about who is responsible for the candidates with criminal backgrounds or those who are corrupt before casting their vote.
883 crorepatis are in the fray
Can crorepatis truly represent the common man in the upcoming elections? It appears that 883 of the 2,560 candidates, whose affidavits were analysed by the ADR and the Karnataka Election Watch, are crorepatis.
Mr. Sastry said that nearly 18% (447 candidates) had declared assets of ₹5 crore and more, nearly 10% (252) owned assets ranging from ₹2 crore to ₹5 crore, nearly 17% candidates (442) had assets of ₹50 lakh to ₹2 crore. The average asset per candidate was ₹7.54 crore, he said.
The top-three candidates with the highest assets are Priya Krishna of the Congress (₹1,020 crore) who is contesting from Govindarajanagar, N. Nagaraju of the Congress (₹1,015 crore) who is contesting from Hosakote, and D.K. Shivakumar of the Congress (₹840 crore) who is contesting from Kanakapura. Interestingly, Mr. Priya Krishna and Mr. Shivakumar, according to their affidavits, also have the highest liabilities of ₹802 crore and ₹228 crore respectively. Janata Dal (Secular) candidate R. Prabhakar Reddy, who is contesting from Bengaluru South, has declared a liability of ₹283 crore.
Mr. Sastry said 309 candidates had not declared their PAN details. “Why is there one rule for the common man and another for political leaders? We are following this up with the Election Commission of India and asking the commission to only accept affidavits that include all details,” he added.
As many as 1,351 candidates have declared their educational qualification to be between class 5 pass and class 12 pass, an analysis of the affidavits of 2,560 candidates has revealed. The ADR and the Karnataka Election Watch stated that 981 candidates have declared having an educational qualification of graduation or above. As many as 50 candidates are unlettered and 52 candidates have declared themselves as literate. Eleven candidates have not given any education qualification in their affidavits.
The top two demands of the citizens are regular water supply and employment. But how many candidates are actually taking about these issues, asked Mr. Sastry. Urging citizens to only vote for candidates with no criminal background, he called upon citizens to reject the gifts, bribes and other freebies.
“We must vote for clean candidates to root-out corruption. People must be suspicious of candidates who are spending a lot by distributing freebies and cash while seeking votes; such candidates must not be allowed to come to power,” he said, and added that the ADR would undertake a door-to-door campaign in this regard in Mysuru, Kodagu, and Hassan districts.