Is it just a perception that money, criminal heft and political success are closely linked?

Or, does documentary evidence support this theory? Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) and Punjab Election Watch (PEW), organisations working for electoral reforms and transparency in the political system, examined affidavits filed by poll candidates contesting for Lok Sabha as well as the assembly in Punjab from 2006 to 2014. A total of 2,074 candidates contested either parliamentary or assembly elections in that period, and what emerged from an in-depth analysis of the voluminous affidavits points to a sad reality.

Cases in point

11% of 2,074 candidates in polls in Punjab from 2006 to 2014 declared criminal cases against themselves, while 5% had ‘serious’ criminal cases

17% of 266 MPs and MLAs had declared criminal cases, while 6% had serious criminal charges pending

19% MPs and MLAs of Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD), 18% Congress, 9% of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) had serious criminal charges

23% of those who contested on SAD ticket since 2006 declared criminal cases; 15% in Cong, 10% BJP, 10% Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), and 9% Independents declared criminal cases

13% of the candidates who had graduate or higher degrees declared criminal cases

7% or only 2 out of 28 woman MPs and MLAs declared criminal case

What about education?

69% of all candidates (2006 to 2014) were Class-12 pass or below

47% of those who became MP or MLA were Class-12 pass or below

Rs 6.7 crore were average assets of MPs/MLAs who studied up to Class 12 or below

Rs 9.9 crore: Average assets of MPs/MLAs who had graduate degree or above

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