Times of India
Jaideep Deogharia

Bahujan Mukti Party candidate Ram Vachan Ram contesting the Palamu (SC) seat has emerged as the wealthiest among all 45 candidates in the fray for the first phase of the Lok Sabha election (fourth phase nationally) in which Singhbhum, Lohardaga, Khunti and Palamu, all reserved seats, go to the polls on May 13, a study report released by the Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) and the National Election Watch (NEW) here on Saturday said.

Up-mukhiya of Kutmu panchayat, Ram is richer than Union minister Arjun Munda in total assets despite the fact that his entire earning comes from farming and he has not filed income tax returns. With declared assets worth Rs 18 crore, Ram tops the list followed by Arjun Munda with net declared assets of over Rs 16 crore. Interestingly, Munda’s major chuck of income comes from his businesswoman wife Meera Munda. Independent candidate Pawan Tigga, contesting from the Lohardaga seat, finishes third with net assets worth Rs 5.6 crore.

In a stark difference, the poorest candidate in the fray is Beer Singh Deogam of the Right to Recall Party contesting the Singhbhum (ST) seat with declared assets of a mere Rs 30,000.

The report titled, Analysis of Criminal Background, Financial, Education, Gender and Other Details of Candidates, said the electors should be aware of the background of the candidates that they are going to vote for in the upcoming election. State head of ADR-NEW, Sudhir Pal, said the report has been prepared based on the affidavits filed by the candidates with the Election Commission of India.

In terms of pending cases, the ADR-NEW report categorized the candidates into two groups — those facing some charges and those facing charges of heinous crime.

Babita Kachchap of Bharat Adivasi Party, contesting the Khunti (ST) seat faces sedition charges while nine out of the 45 candidates face some sort of charge for which the quantum of sentence may exceed five years if proven guilty. Pal said other candidates face charges like promoting enmity between religious groups, and causing deliberate hurt to government servants to deter them from executing government jobs and similar ones.

Moreover, Lohardaga (ST) and Singhbhum (ST) are among the red-alert constituencies where three or more candidates have declared criminal charges against themselves.

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