Source: 
India Today
https://www.indiatoday.in/diu/story/lok-sabha-elections-2024-candidates-crimes-rise-in-wealth-women-participation-2545112-2024-05-29
Author: 
Ananya Verma, Nishant Agarwalla and Piyush Aggarwal
Date: 
29.05.2024
City: 
New Delhi

There has been a significant rise in wealthy candidates, with one in three being a crorepati. India Today's Data Intelligence Unit analysed the candidates' profiles and trends from past general elections.

With only a few days left before the final phase of the seven-part Lok Sabha elections in 2024, the world's biggest democratic exercise, the fate of over eight thousand candidates is at stake for 543 seats. India Today's Data Intelligence Unit analysed the candidates' profiles and trends from past general elections.

According to data from the non-profit Association For Democratic Reforms, there has been a significant rise in wealthy candidates, with one in three being a crorepati. At the same time, the number of candidates with criminal records has also been steadily increasing, with one in five declaring criminal cases against them. The only silver lining is the rise in women's participation, which has marginally improved over the past four elections.

BREAKING THE GLASS CEILING

There has been a steady rise in women's participation in the Lok Sabha polls, increasing by one per cent with each election. Nearly 800 women are contesting in the 2024 elections, making up almost ten per cent of the candidates. In comparison, nine per cent of the candidates were women in 2019. Similarly, in 2014 and 2009, only eight and seven per cent of the candidates were women, respectively.

Lok Sabha candidates

TAINTED CANDIDATES ON THE RISE

The influence of muscle power in politics is growing, as seen in the rise of candidates with criminal cases from 2009 to 2024. This trend shows how candidates with tainted backgrounds have a strong chance of getting a ticket to Parliament in the world's biggest democracy. In 2009, about 15 per cent of candidates had criminal cases against them. By 2024, this increased to 20 per cent.

Candidates accused of serious crimes — like murder, attempted murder, kidnapping, rape, and crimes against women — have also increased. In 2009, eight per cent of candidates had serious criminal charges. This went up to 14 per cent in 2024.

Lok Sabha candidates

The number of constituencies with three or more candidates having criminal cases, called “Red Constituencies” by the ADR, has also risen. In 2009, nearly one out of three or 36 per cent of constituencies were red. By 2024, this grew to nearly 53 per cent. Basically, every second constituency has three or more candidates with criminal cases against them in 2024.

The party-wise trend shows that the Congress and the BJP gave tickets to over 40 per cent of the tainted candidates in 2024. The ratio was nearly 27 per cent in 2009. Moreover, the ratio of candidates who declared serious cases doubled between 2009 and 2024.

CROREPATIS GETTING MORE TICKETS

In 2009, only 16 per cent of the contesting candidates were crorepati. The number saw a huge jump, with 27 per cent of the candidates participating in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls. The number of crorepati candidates has almost doubled in the last 15 years, with 31 per cent of the candidates having declared assets worth more than Rs 1 crore in 2024.

Looking at the data, the candidates with assets worth Rs 5 crore and above have increased from 11 per cent in 2019 to 12.4 per cent in the 2024 Lok Sabha polls.

Candidates are getting wealthier

The BJP fielded the highest number of crorepati candidates in the 2024 Lok Sabha elections — with 403 of its 440 candidates. The percentage of BJP candidates with assets worth more than Rs 1 crore has also risen sharply, from 41.8 per cent in 2009 to 91.6 per cent in 2024.

Similarly, for the Congress party, the number of crorepati candidates has increased from 63 per cent in 2009 to 89 per cent in 2024.

AVERAGE ASSETS OF CANDIDATES MORE THAN TRIPLED

The average assets of candidates saw a whopping 463 per cent increase between 2009 and 2024, rising from Rs 1.1 crore in 2009 to Rs 6.23 crore in 2024.

Rising assets of Lok Sabha candidates

For the incumbent BJP, the average asset of a candidate was Rs 13.4 crore in 2019. By 2024, it increased seventeen times to Rs 41.3 crore. In contrast, Congress candidates had average assets worth Rs 19.9 crore in 2019, which grew to Rs 24.7 crore in 2024.

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