The News21

More than 60% of the 300-odd candidates contesting the ensuing February 14 Goa Assembly election are ‘crorepatis’ on the basis of their Income Tax (I-T) returns while 26% have criminal cases against them, according to a report released on Tuesday by the Association of Democratic Reforms (ADR).  

According to the analysis done by Goa Election Watch (GEW) and the ADR, the average asset value of these 187 (of a total 301 candidates) mega-rich candidates is Rs 6.48 crore.  About 12 candidates have cases relating to crime against women, out of which one is embroiled in a case related to rape (Section 376 of the Indian Penal Code) while eight have attempt to murder cases (Section 307 of the IPC) against them. 

The richest among the 301 candidates in the poll fray being ex-Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) minister-turned-Congressman Michael Lobo and his wife, Delilah Lobo, whose total assets are worth Rs. 93 crore each. 

They are followed by another husband-wife duo: ex-Congressman-turned BJP MLA from Panaji, Atanasio ‘Babush’ Monserrate and his wife, BJP Minister Jennifer Monserrate with assets worth Rs. 48 crore each. Monserrate also has a alleged rape case filed against him. 

Bhasker Assoldekar, the ADR’s Goa coordinator remarked, “It ought to have taken close to 100 years for these candidates to accumulate the kind of wealth based on their I-T returns they have been filing for the last five years…Assets that are being shown by Mr. Lobo and his wife amount to nearly Rs. 93 crores. They have been filing Income Tax returns for the last five years averaging at Rs. 4.8 crores. One can only imagine the number of years that it must have taken to amass such wealth and whether their age justifies this accumulation of wealth.”

Goa Forward Party (GFP) chief Vijai Sardesai’s assets totaled Rs. 37 crores while Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party (MGP) president Deepak Dhavalikar’s assets amounted to Rs. 32 crores. 

“Deepak Dhavalikar has been showing the same wealth and value of the property for the last four elections in his pre-election affidavits, be it the 2007, 2012, 2017 or the upcoming election. The Election Commission of India (ECI) wants each candidate to submit the approximate current value of his or her property in their affidavits… But this gentleman (Dhavalikar) has been giving the same value of his assets Expecting something like this to happen, I had even given a letter to the Chief Election Officer in December last year cautioning that there could be some candidate who could be doing this,” added Assoldekar.   

About 93 of the 301 candidates have assets worth over Rs. five crores while 60 have declared assets of over Rs. 10 crores.  

According to the ADR report, not a single candidate is illiterate, about 138 (46%) candidates have declared their educational qualifications to be between the 5th and 12th standard, while 127 (42%) candidates have declared having an educational qualification of graduate or above.  “34 (11%) candidates are Diploma holders and two candidates have declared themselves to be just literate,” the ADR report adds. 

Maj Gen Anil Verma (Retd), Head of ADR states, “The directions of the Supreme Court have had no effect on the political parties in selection of candidates in Phase1 & II of the UP, Uttarakhand & Goa Assembly Elections as they have again followed their old practice of giving tickets to candidates with criminal cases. All major parties contesting in UP phase II elections have given tickets to 14 % to 67 %, in Uttarakhand have given tickets to 17 % to 33 % and in Goa have given tickets to 23 % to 46 % candidates who have declared criminal cases against themselves.

The report urged the ECI and all State Election Commissions to make it mandatory in all elections to carry display boards outside every polling booth showing a summarized version of candidates’ affidavits.  

Maj. Gen. Anil Verma (Retd), added that while the Supreme Court, in its directions dated February 13, 2020, had specifically instructed political parties to give reasons for selection of tainted candidates and why other individuals without criminal antecedents could not be selected, it appeared that political parties had no inclination towards reforming the political system. 

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