Mid Day

Only 9 percent of the 1,352 candidates contesting in the third phase of the Lok Sabha elections are women while 18 percent have declared criminal cases against themselves, the ADR said in a new report.

Seven candidates have also declared prior convictions, according to an analysis of details of candidates contesting the elections in the third phase by the Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) and The National Election Watch.

The third phase of the elections will be held on May 7. Among the 244 candidates with criminal records, five face charges related to murder while 24 have been booked in cases of attempted murder.

Additionally, 38 candidates have been linked to crimes against women and 17 declared cases related to hate speech.

The analysis, based on the self-sworn affidavits of the 1,352 candidates, has shed light on trends in criminality and wealth accumulation among political aspirants.

The prevalence of criminal cases varies significantly across major political parties, with figures highlighting concerning trends among candidates from prominent parties such as the BJP, Congress and the Samajwadi Party.

The report also highlighted the disparity in the candidates' financial backgrounds. It disclosed that 29 percent or 392 candidates are "crorepatis", with the average assets per candidate standing at a substantial Rs 5.66 crore.

The top three candidates in terms of declared assets possess wealth ranging into hundreds of crores, with the highest declared assets surpassing Rs 1,361 crore.
Since filing of the nominations and the affidavits, the Congress nominee from Indore has withdrawn his candidature.

The analysis also delves into the educational and demographic backgrounds of the candidates. The report indicates that 47 percent or 639 candidates have educational qualifications from classes 5 to 12 while 44 percent or 591 are graduates or possess higher educational qualifications.

Agewise, 30 percent or 411 candidates fall within the 25-40 years bracket while 53 percent or 712 are aged between 41 and 60.
The report also highlights gender disparity in candidate selection with only 9 per cent or 123 women contesting the elections in the third phase.

In response to these findings, the ADR has proposed stringent measures to address the criminalisation of politics, including permanent disqualification of candidates convicted of heinous crimes and cancellation of tax exemptions for political parties fielding "tainted" candidates.

The report underscored the pressing need for accountability and transparency within India's political landscape, emphasising the importance of electoral reforms to uphold the integrity of the democratic process.

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