About 31% or 328 out of the total 1,064 candidates contesting in the upcoming first phase of Bihar elections have declared criminal cases against themselves, according to an analysis by Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) and Bihar Election Watch. Of them, 244 candidates or 23% have declared serious criminal cases against them.

The Election Commission has scheduled the elections for 243 Assembly seats in Bihar in three phases -- first phase elections for 71 constituencies in 16 districts will be held on October 28, second phase for 94 assembly constituencies in 17 districts on November 3, and the final phase, 78 seats in 15 districts on November 7. The results will be declared on November 10.

The ADR analysed 1,064 of the total 1,066 candidates contesting in the first phase of Bihar elections.

According to the ADR analysis, party-wise, 30 of 41 contesting candidates (73%) from Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) have declared criminal cases against them. Similarly, , 21 out of 29 candidates (72%)from Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), 24 out of 41 candidates (59%) from Lok Janshakti Party (LJP), 12 out of 21 candidates (57%) from Congress, 15 out of 35 candidates (43%) from Janata Dal (United), and 8 out of 26 candidates (31%) analysed from Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) have declared criminal cases against themselves in their affidavits.

Further, there are 29 candidates with declared cases related to crime against women, 21 candidates with declared cases related to murder and 62 candidates have declared cases related to ‘attempt to murder’.

“About 86% or 61 out of 71 constituencies are Red alert constituencies. Red alert constituencies are those where 3 or more contesting candidates have declared criminal cases against themselves,” states ADR.

“These Bihar elections are significant as they are the first elections to be held after the Supreme Court directions on February 13, 2020 which had specifically instructed political parties to give reasons for selection of candidates with criminal background and why other individuals without criminal antecedents could not be selected as candidates,” said Jagdeep Chhokar, founder member of ADR, during the press conference in which the report was released.

Chhokar noted that the directions of the Supreme Court have had no effect on the political parties in selection of candidates, as they had again followed their old practice of giving tickets to around 31% candidates with criminal cases.

“As per these mandatory guidelines, the reasons for such selection has to be with reference to qualifications, achievements and merit of the candidate concerned. Therefore, such unfounded and baseless reasons given by political parties like popularity of the person, does good social work, cases are politically motivated etc., are not sound and cogent reasons for fielding candidates with tainted backgrounds. This data clearly shows that political parties have no interest in reforming the electoral system and our democracy will continue to suffer at the hands of lawbreakers who become lawmakers,” concludes the report.

Financial Background 

As many as 375 out of 1,064 candidates are crorepatis, with declared assets worth more than Rs 1 crore, finds ADR.  The average asset comes to around Rs 1.99 crore.

The share of wealth amongst the candidates contesting in the first phase of Bihar Assembly elections 2020 is as follows:

“455 (43%) candidates have declared their educational qualification to be between 5 th and 12 th standard while 522 (49%) candidates have declared having an educational qualification of graduate or above. 74 candidates are literate. There are 5 candidates who are Illiterate and

7 candidates are Diploma holders. One candidate namly Bindu Vikash Atal of Jagrook Janta Party from Bodh Gaya constituency has not declared his education details in the affidavit,” says the report.

2015 Bihar Assembly Elections

57% or 136 of 240 sitting Members of Legislative Assembly (MLAs) in Bihar assembly elected during the last elections have criminal cases against themselves, according to separate analysis by the ADR. Of them ,94 MLAs had declared serious criminal cases against them.

Party-wise Sitting MLAs with Criminal cases

Further, 67% or 160 out of 240 MLAs analysed are crorepatis and the average assets per sitting MLA is recorded as Rs 3.06 crore.

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