Of several candidates in poll fray, there are also those with criminal background and this time the percentage of such contenders has risen by 4 per cent in comparison to the last assembly election held in the state. An analysis by Association of Democratic Reforms (ADR) has found out that nearly 15 per cent of the candidates in Rajasthan have pending criminal cases against them. 

“Out of 2188 candidates analyzed, 320 (15%) candidates have declared criminal cases against themselves. In 2013 Rajasthan Assembly Elections, out of 2030 candidates analysed, 224(11%) had declared criminal cases against them,” states the report. The percentage of candidates with serious criminal cases has also increased from 7 to 9 per cent. “Serious criminal case include those with provision of maximum punishment of 5 or more years, non-bailable offences, electoral offenses and other serious cases,” says an ADR official. 

The report is based on analyses of  self-sworn affidavits of 2188 out of 2294 candidates, who are contesting in the Rajasthan Assembly Elections by Rajasthan Election Watch (REW) and Association for Democratic Reforms. Of the 2188 candidates analysed, 608 are from national parties, 209 are from state parties, 584 are from registered unrecognized parties and 787 candidates are contesting independently.

“We were unable to analyse 106 candidates as their related documents were either badly scanned or complete affidavits were not uploaded on the election commission website,” the report states on the missing candidates as it mentions their names in a separate list. 

The ADR was established nearly two decades ago by a group of professors from Indian Institute of Management (IIM) Ahmedabad and has since been active in seeking transparency in election process. Apart from analysis of candidate background the organisation through associates like Rajasthan Election Watch has also held surveys of public perception and expectations from elections. 

Major Parties

Most major political parties have higher than average percentage of candidates with criminal records. According to the report, among major parties, 33 (17%) out of 198 candidates analysed from BJP, 43 (22%) out of 193 candidates from Congress, 26 (18%) out of 141 candidates analysed from AAP, and 31 (17%) out of 178 candidates analysed from BSP have declared criminal cases. 

Assets Up

An analysis of the affidavits submitted by 137 of the 143 re-contesting MLAs, the ADR has found a comparative rise in average assets. Most of the re-contesting candidates have not only gained on wealth from previous elections, the average wealth of such candidates have also rose by nearly Rs 2 crore since last assembly elections. The average assets of re- contesting MLAs in 2018 is Rs 9.93 crores.

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