Times of India
Riyan Ramanath V

Out of 28 assembly constituencies which will go to polls in the first phase in the state on May 13, as many as 12 have been tagged as ‘red alert’ seats with all candidates declaring criminal cases in their affidavits, data compiled by Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) and Odisha Election Watch revealed.

According to ADR, red alert seats are those which have three or more candidates with criminal cases against them.

Out of the 243 assembly candidates in fray in the first phase, 48 have serious criminal cases registered against them while 65 have criminal cases, the data said.

In all 28 constituencies, the three major parties — BJP, BJD and Congress — have fielded their candidates. Data revealed that out of the 28 BJP nominees in the fray, 64% (18) have criminal cases, the highest, followed by the Congress candidates with 61% (17). BJD is third with 32% of its candidates declaring criminal cases. BJP candidates also top in the category of serious criminal cases with 15 of them declaring them. Three Congress candidates have serious criminal cases registered against them.

“Parties followed the old practice of giving tickets to candidates with criminal cases in as far as selection of candidates for phase-1 is concerned. All major parties contesting in the first phase have given tickets from 27% to 64% candidates who have declared criminal cases against them. This data clearly shows that political parties have no interest in reforming the electoral system,” the ADR analysis said.

The report revealed that criteria for serious criminal cases included offences for which punishment is five or more years of imprisonment. If the offence is non-bailable, they related to loss to exchequer, assault, murder, kidnap and rape, offences under Prevention of Corruption Act and crime against women.

In the four Lok Sabha seats — Kalahandi, Nabarangpur, Berhampur and Koraput — going to polls in the first phase, seven candidates have criminal cases against them. They are from the Congress (2), BJD (2) and BJP (3). They constitute 19% of the total candidates for the parliamentary seats.

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