As many as 41 out of the 259 contesting candidates in the Tripura assembly elections scheduled for February 16 have criminal charges against them.

21 of them are charged with serious offences (provision of punishment more than five years), Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) report revealed on Monday.

The report observed that the directions of the Supreme Court have had no effect on the political parties in selection of candidates in the Tripura assembly elections as they have again followed their old practice of giving tickets to around 16 percent of candidates with criminal cases.

The report underlined all major parties contesting the elections have given tickets to 16- 54 percent candidates who have declared criminal cases against themselves. The Supreme Court in its directions on Feb 13, 2020 had specifically instructed political parties to give reasons for such selection and why other individuals without criminal antecedents could not be selected as candidates but it was absent.

“As per these mandatory guidelines, the reasons for such selection have to be with reference to qualifications, achievements and merit of the candidate concerned. During the recent seven State Assembly elections held in 2022, it was observed that political parties gave unfounded and baseless reasons like popularity of the person, does good social work, cases are politically motivated,” ADR report stated.

According to report, among major parties, two of 13 candidates from congress, five of 43 contestants from CPI-M, and five of 55 from BJP have declared serious criminal cases while eight candidates have declared cases related to attempted murder (IPC Section-307) against themselves. Two constituencies of 60 have been marked as red alert constituencies where three or more contesting candidates have declared criminal cases against themselves.

Report pointed out, 45 (17%) crorepatis (millionaires) are in fray in the election, which was 35 (12%) in the last assembly election of 2018. Among the major parties 17 candidates (31%) of 55 of BJP, 6 candidates (46%) of Congress and 7 (16%) of 43 candidates from CPI(M) have declared assets valued more than Rs 1 crore.

The richest candidate of Tripura election was identified as Deputy Chief Minister Jishnu Dev Varma with over Rs 15 Cr asset followed by Chief Minister Dr Manik Saha with more than Rs 13 Cr asset and poor candidates having asset of Rs 700 – Rs 2000 are contesting as Independent, the report stated.

As many as 139 (54%) candidates have declared their educational qualifications between 5th and 12th standard while 116 (45%) candidates have found graduate or above, two are Diploma holders and two literate are contesting the election. While 24 percent (63) young candidates up to age 40 yrs are in the fray, 21 percent (54) candidates are between 61 to 80 years of age. The women contestants are only 12 percent, the report added.

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