An analysis done by the Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) has shown that 13% of the candidates in the 2021 Tamil Nadu Assembly election have criminal cases pending against them, and 18% are crorepatis.
The analysis shows 6% of the candidates have cases pending against them on serious charges.
Of the 3,998 candidates, ADR analysed the affidavits of 3,559 candidates, which is around 90%. Ten from the DMK, 30 from Naam Tamilar Katchi (NTK), 23 from Makkal Needhi Maiam (MNM), and 59 from the AMMK are among the candidates whose affidavits were not analysed because they were not uploaded on the Election Commission of India’s website at the time of compiling the report, the ADR said.
Of the 466 candidates who have declared criminal cases against them, close to 350 are from the major parties. A total of 136 of the 178 (76%) candidates contesting on the DMK’s rising sun symbol have criminal cases, the highest among the major parties. In terms of percentage, this was followed by the BJP. Fifteen of its 20 candidates (75%) face criminal cases. While 50 DMK candidates (28% of the total) face serious charges, the BJP has eight such candidates (40%).
Among the 191 candidates fielded by the ruling AIADMK on the two leaves symbol, 46 (24%) have criminal cases, of which 18 (9%) face serious charges, according to the report.
Among the other key parties, 71% of the candidates from the Congress, 44% from the PMK, 30% from the DMDK, 29% from the AMMK, 15% from the MNM and 14% from the NTK have criminal cases.
The report classified 74 of the 234 constituencies as “red alert constituencies” because they have three or more contestants with declared criminal cases.
According to the report, 652 of the 3,559 candidates are crorepatis. Of them, nearly 50% are of the AIADMK and the DMK. The report says that 87% of the DMK’s candidates and 86% of the AIADMK’s candidates are crorepatis.
The average worth of assets of each candidate is ₹1.72 crore.
Among the other parties, 91% of the candidates of the Congress, 75% of the BJP, 63% of the AMMK, 61% of the PMK, 33% of the MNM, 32% of the DMDK and 13% of the NTK are crorepatis.
‘Norms not followed’
Releasing the report, Madras High Court advocate V. Suresh said that though the ECI laid out norms following a consistent fight by civil society in the Supreme Court, they were seldom followed in letter and in spirit.
For instance, no party adhered to the norm demanding proactive publication of criminal antecedents of its candidates through advertisements in vernacular and English language newspapers at least thrice before an election.
Jayaram Venkatesan and P. Joseph Victor Raj of Tamil Nadu Election Watch, which collaborated with the ADR in the analysis, demanded norms to prevent those with serious criminal charges pending for long from contesting in elections.