Coffers swell as candidates forfeit deposits

NEW DELHI DEC. 7. The coffers of the Election Commission have swelled by around Rs. 30 lakhs with as many as 657 of the 817 candidates who contested for the December 1 Delhi Assembly elections forfeiting their security deposits.

Details of the election results announced on December 4 has revealed that only 160 of the candidates could save their security deposit of Rs. 5,000 for general candidate and Rs. 2,500 for Scheduled Caste candidate.

With a majority of the 70 Assembly constituencies witnessing a straight contest between the Congress and the BJP, almost all candidates of the rest of the political parties including national parties like the Bahujan Samaj Party and the Nationalist Congress Party, forfeited their security deposits.

Though the BSP, which nominated its candidates in 40 Assembly constituencies, stood a distant third at over two dozen seats, it could save its security at only one seat, while the NCP, which opened its account in Badarpur, lost its security deposit at the rest of the 32 seats where it had fielded its candidate.

Same was the case with other political parties like the Rashtriya Janata Dal, the Indian National Lok Dal, the Shiv Sena and all most all the independents except for a few like Vinod Sharma, the rebel BJP candidate from Nasirpur. The BJP candidates from about half-a-dozen seats too lost their security deposits including Matia Mahal, Ballimaran and Nasirpur.

There were 51 candidates who could not secure even 50 votes. Of these 18 of them polled less than 30 votes, 16 got between 30 and 39 votes, and 17 received between 40 and 49 votes. Kusum Behal, independent candidate from the prestigious Gole Market Assembly constituency, probably polled lowest 13 votes. The Delhi Chief Minister, Shiela Dikshit, was re-elected from here by defeating Poonam Azad of the BJP.

Officials of the Election Commission said if proposal to increase the security deposit to Rs. 10,000 for general and Rs. 5,000 for Scheduled Caste was accepted then the number of contesting candidates could have decreased considerably this time.

"We want only serious contenders in the fray. The presence of non-serious contenders are a big drain on the State exchequer,'' officials said. "With so many candidates forfeiting their security deposit, the election result only tend to indicate that four-fifths of the candidates were not serious about their candidates,'' he added.

In the last Assembly elections held in 1998, as many as 669 of the 815 candidates in the fray had lost their security deposit. Of these 627 were men and 42 were women, officials said.

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