Source: 
Outlook
https://www.outlookindia.com/national/telangana-elections-what-is-a-red-alert-constituency-why-should-it-matter-to-voters--news-333110
Author: 
Outlook Web Desk
Date: 
27.11.2023
City: 

A total of 11 out of 15 seats in the Hyderabad district are 'red alert' constituencies. Moreover, 23 per cent of the candidates in the Telangana elections this year have declared criminal cases against them, according to a report by the Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) and the Telangana Election Watch.

In the run-up to Telangana Assembly election on November 30, the Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) has identified a total of 96 out of 119 constituencies (81 per cent) as 'red alert' constituencies in the southern state, while 11 out of 15 seats in the Hyderabad district alone have been identified as 'red alert' constituencies.

This goes against the directions of the Supreme Court, which denies candidates permission to contest if they have criminal cases against them. Political parties in Telangana have instead followed their old practice of using money and muscle power instead of the principles of 'free and fair' elections to field candidates.

What is a 'red alert' constituency?

A 'red alert' constituency, as defined by the Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR), indicates a constituency where three or more candidates face criminal charges. The identification process for red alert constituencies relies on the affidavits submitted to the election commission by contesting candidates during the nomination process. 

Candidates are legally obligated to declare any criminal convictions against them in the affidavits. Failure to do so can have serious consequences, as the election commission may disqualify them from contesting during the scrutiny of applications. This legal scrutiny encourages candidates to disclose any criminal convictions to avoid potential disqualification.

Candidates With Highest Criminal Cases

According to a report by ADR and the Telangana Election Watch, 521 out of 2,290 (23 per cent) of the total candidates contesting in the Telangana elections have declared criminal cases against them. This trend signifies a substantial increase in the number of 'Red Alert Constituencies,' rising from 66 per cent in the 2018 Assembly elections to a concerning 81 per cent this year.

The data reveals a pattern across political parties, with 72 per cent of Congress candidates, 71 per cent of BJP candidates, 48 per cent of BRS candidates, 37 per cent of BSP candidates, and 56 per cent of AIMIM candidates having criminal charges against them.

The report further highlights that 15 per cent of the candidates, a slight increase from 13 per cent in the 2018 elections, have serious criminal cases, including seven murder cases, 27 attempted murder cases, and 45 cases related to crimes against women.

Anumula Revanth Reddy, a candidate from the Kodangal constituency, has the most number of criminal cases recorded against him. Anumula Revanth Reddy of the Congress party tops the list with 89 criminal cases. 

The second highest is BJP's T Raja Singh from Goshamahal constituency with 87 registered criminal cases. 

BJP's Bandi Sanjay Kumar, from the Karimnagar constituency, has 59 recorded criminal cases.

Supreme Court's Call for Accountability Ignored

Despite the clear directions from the Supreme Court, the influence on the candidate selection process for the Telangana Assembly Elections 2023 has been negligible. Political parties have reverted to their established practice of allocating tickets to approximately 23 per cent of candidates with criminal cases. This pattern is evident across major parties participating in the Telangana elections, with tickets being distributed to candidates ranging from 24 per cent to a concerning 72 per cent, all of whom have declared criminal cases against themselves.

The Supreme Court, in its directives issued on February 13, 2020, specifically mandated political parties to provide justifiable reasons for selecting candidates with criminal backgrounds. The criteria for such selections were to be based on the qualifications, achievements, and merit of the candidates, ensuring transparency in the electoral process. However, the recent 2023 State Assembly elections witnessed a disregard for these guidelines, with parties offering unsubstantiated and baseless reasons such as the candidate's popularity, involvement in social work, or claims that the criminal cases were politically motivated. These justifications fall short of the required sound and cogent reasons for fielding candidates with tainted backgrounds.

List Of Red Alert Constituencies In Hyderabad District

Within the Hyderabad Lok Sabha constituency, six out of seven assembly constituencies have been flagged as ‘red alert.’ This trend extends across the larger Hyderabad district, encompassing two Lok Sabha constituencies, Hyderabad and Secunderabad, and a total of 15 Assembly constituencies. The comprehensive list of 'red alert' state assembly constituencies in the Hyderabad district is as follows:

Musheerabad

  • Number of candidates analysed: 31
  • Candidates with criminal cases: 8
  • Parties fielding candidates with criminal cases: BJP, INC, BSP, IND, Yuga Thulasi Party

Jubilee Hills

  • Number of candidates analysed: 19
  • Candidates with criminal cases: 7
  • Parties fielding candidates with criminal cases: BJP, INC, All India Majlis-E-Ittehadul Muslimeen, BSP, IND, IND

Karwan

  • Number of candidates analysed: 18
  • Candidates with criminal cases: 7
  • Parties fielding candidates with criminal cases: BJP, INC, BRS, All India Majlis-E-Ittehadul Muslimeen, BSP, IND, Yuga Thulasi Party

Khairatabad

  • Number of candidates analysed: 25
  • Candidates with criminal cases: 5
  • Parties fielding candidates with criminal cases: BJP, INC, BRS, IND, Yuga Thulasi Party

Amberpet

  • Number of candidates analysed: 20
  • Candidates with criminal cases: 5
  • Parties fielding candidates with criminal cases: BJP, INC, BRS, IND, Yuga Thulasi Party

Charminar

  • Number of candidates analysed: 14
  • Candidates with criminal cases: 5
  • Parties fielding candidates with criminal cases: BJP, INC, BRS, Bharatha Chaitanya Yuvajana Party, Navarang Congress Party

Goshamahal

  • Number of candidates analysed: 21
  • Candidates with criminal cases: 5
  • Parties fielding candidates with criminal cases: INC, All India Majlis-E-Ittehadul Muslimeen, BSP, Navarang Congress Party

Chandrayangutta

  • Number of candidates analysed: 14
  • Candidates with criminal cases: 4

Malakpet

  • Number of candidates analysed: 27
  • Candidates with criminal cases: 4
  • Parties fielding candidates with criminal cases: BJP, INC, All India Majlis-E-Inquilab-E-Millat, BSP

Nampally

  • Number of candidates analysed: 34
  • Candidates with criminal cases: 4
  • Parties fielding candidates with criminal cases: BJP, INC, All India Majlis-E-Inquilab-E-Millat, BSP

Yakutpura

  • Number of candidates analysed: 27
  • Candidates with criminal cases: 3
  • Parties fielding candidates with criminal cases: BJP, IND, Majlis Bachao Tahreek

One-Fourth Of Candidates Are Crorepatis

In terms of financial transparency, the report indicates that one-fourth of the candidates have declared assets exceeding ₹1 crore, a statistic consistent with the 2018 elections. Notably, 96 per cent of Bharat Rashtra Samithi candidates and 94 per cent of Congress candidates are declared crorepati candidates, with the All India Majlis-E-Ittehadul Muslimeen and the BJP closely following at 89 per cent and 84 per cent, respectively. On average, candidates in the election have declared assets worth ₹4.71 crore, with 41.48 per cent having assets below 10 lakhs.

According to an article published by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in 2018, while money plays a key role in most elections worldwide, the particular reliance of Indian parties on candidates with great personal wealth is quite a unique phenomenon.

The article titled “Money Matters in Indian Elections: Why Parties Depend on Wealthy Candidates” gives three reasons why the rise of self-financing campaign funding in India raises concerns. 

First, if candidates need to be wealthy to contest an election, only a small subset of the population can realistically hold office, resulting in legislators that have less in common with the citizens they represent. 

Second, if parties prioritise personal wealth over qualities like education or constituency service, elected politicians may struggle to represent constituents effectively. 

Most importantly, self-financed campaigns may lead to increased corruption as candidates view elections as investments, not sunk costs.

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