Elections to the 140-member Kerala Assembly will be held on April 6. While the CPI(M)-led LDF governs the state with 91 seats, the Congress-led UDF is trying to regain power in the state. Meanwhile, a sharp look at the 2016 Assembly Election results has thrown some interesting facts that reflect upon the voting pattern in India’s most literate state. Association of Democratic Reforms has issued a detailed analysis report on the previous assembly election results showing that 65 per cent of the state’s elected legislators have criminal cases registered against them.

The ADR analysed 132 sitting MLAs and found that 86 (65 per cent) MLAs have declared criminal cases against themselves while 28 (21 per cent) MLAs have declared serious criminal cases against them. Two sitting MLAs have declared cases related to murder while 6 MLAs have declared cases related to attempt to murder against them. One MLA has declared a case related to Crime against Women against him.

If we talk about party-wise sitting MLAs with criminal cases, 51 (91 per cent) out of 56 MLAs of CPI(M), 12 (63 per cent) out of 19 MLAs from CPI, 9 (45 per cent) out of 20 MLAs from Congress, 5 (28 per cent) out of 18 MLAs from IUML and 4 (67 per cent) out of 6 independent MLAs have criminal cases declared against them.

Speaking exclusively to the, Maj. Gen. Anil Verma (Retd.), Head, ADR and National Election Watch, said that the election of MLAs with criminal cases are not linked to the literacy level.

“Kerala is supposed to be the highest literate state in the country. Still, it has 41 per cent MLAs who are between sixth and 12th class pass only. The criminal cases statistics are more horrifying. The CPI(M) has 91 per cent MLAs with criminal cases which is probably the highest in the country as per my knowledge. Though this is a bit difficult to understand, maybe it has something to do with the culture of violence in the communist parties as far as the elections in West Bengal (previously ruled by CPI-M) or whether it is in Kerala are concerned. If you see the number of people who are injured or killed during the violence before the elections or during the elections, I think the maximum will be in the communist-ruled states. So, it’s not related to the literacy level of the people. It’s the culture of politics that is played out by the communists and that’s to be blamed,” said Maj. Gen. Verma.

He said that voters in the past have elected tainted MLAs because either the legislators get their work done or the voters think cases against them are not serious. “We have conducted some surveys concerning it with the last one held in 2018 with around 2.5 lakh respondents. We asked them why people vote for tainted MLAs. So, around 35 per cent of voters have given four major reasons behind that – first, they are strong candidates, second, they get voters’ work done, third, the cases against them are normal and fourth, they belong to voters’ cast,” added Maj. Gen. Verma.

Those with serious criminal cases include 18 (32 per cent) out of 56 MLAs from CPI(M), 3 (16 per cent) out of 19 MLAs from CPI, 2 (11 per cent) out of 18 MLAs from IUML and 5 (25 per cent) out of 20 MLAs from Congress.

The report also indicates the presence of money power in the Kerala legislature. “Out of 132 sitting MLAs analysed, 57 (43 per cent) are crorepatis. Detailing it party-wise, the report stated, “15 (27 per cent) out of 56 MLAs from CPI(M), 14 (78 per cent) out of 18 MLAs from IUML, 12 (60 per cent) out of 20 MLAs from Congress, 4 (100 per cent) out of 4 MLAs from Kerala Congress (M) and 3 (50 per cent) out of 6 MLAs from Independent have declared assets valued more than Rs 1 crore.

In the ‘God’s Own Country’, the average assets per sitting MLA are Rs 2.03 crore. The top three MLAs with high assets are Beypore CPI(M) MLA V KC Mammed Koya with over Rs 30 crore asset, Pathanapuram Kerala Congress (B) MLA K.B. Ganesh Kumar with assets worth over Rs 22 crore and Perinthalmanna IUML MLA Ali Manjalamkuzhi with assets worth over Rs 20 crore. Pattambi CPI MLA Muhammed Muhassin is a legislator with the lowest assets worth Rs 46,691.

The most literate state has elected 54 (41 per cent) MLAs with educational qualifications between 5th pass and 12th pass while 77 (58 per cent) MLAs are graduate or above and one MLA is only literate. Out of 132 MLAs analysed by the ADR, only 8 (6 per cent) MLAs are women.

Speaking on women participation in the Kerala Assembly, he said that there should be more women MLAs in the assembly. ” Kerala is more of a matriarchal society even now still there are only 8 woman MLAs. If women can run the society, why can’t they be in the assembly running the state?” he questioned.

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