Hindustan Times

As many as 17% of the 626 candidates who are contesting in the coming assembly elections in Uttarakhand have criminal cases against them, compared to 14% of the 637 candidates in 2017 assembly polls, according to a report by the Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR).

The Uttarakhand Election Watch and the ADR have analysed self-sworn affidavits of 626 candidates out of the 632 who are contesting in the assembly polls. Uttarakhand, which has 70 assembly seats, is going to polls on February 14.

Out of the 626 candidates, 61 candidates (10%) have declared serious criminal cases against themselves, compared to 8% in 2017 assembly polls.

The criteria for serious criminal cases include offences for which maximum punishment is of five years or more, if the offence is non-bailable, offences related to assault, murder, kidnap, rape, offences under Prevention of Corruption Act, crimes against women and a few others.

Congress candidates have declared more criminal cases against them compared to the candidates of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

Among the major parties, 33% of the 70 candidates analysed from the Congress, 19% of the 70 candidates analysed from the BJP, 22% of the 69 candidates analysed from the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), 19% of the 54 candidates analysed from the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and 17% of the 42 candidates analysed from the Uttarakhand Kranti Dal (UKD) have declared criminal cases against themselves in their affidavits.

When it comes to serious criminal cases, 16% of the Congress’s 70 candidates, 11% of the BJP’s 70 candidates, 13% of the AAP’s 69 candidates, 11% of the BSP’s 54 candidates and 10% of the UKD’s 42 candidates have declared serious criminal cases against themselves in their affidavits.

Six candidates have declared cases related to crime against women, including one related to rape. One candidate has murder case declared against him, while three candidates have attempt to murder cases declared against them.

The ADR report points out that directions of the Supreme Court have had no effect on the political parties in selection of candidates in the Uttarakhand Assembly Elections 2022 as they have again followed their old practice of giving tickets to around 17% candidates with criminal cases. “All major parties contesting in Uttarakhand elections have given tickets to 17 % to 33 % candidates who have declared criminal cases against themselves. The Supreme Court in its directions dated February 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. As per these mandatory guidelines, the reasons for such selection has to be with reference to qualifications, achievements and merit of the candidate concerned.”.

Out of the 626 candidates, 40% candidates have assets in crores of rupees, compared to 31% such candidates in 2017 elections.

Three candidates with highest assets include the Congress’s Antriksh Saini from Laksar Haridwar with over 123 crore total assets, the BJP’s Satpal Maharaj from Pauri Garhwal with over 87 crore total assets and the UKD’s Mohan Kala from Srinagar with  82 crore total assets.

Three candidates who have declared lowest assets include Sandeep Kumar from Srinagar with assets worth over 1,000, Nisar Khan from Lohaghat with assets worth over 1,500 and Akash Negi with assets worth over 4,500.

Among the major political parties, 86% of the 70 candidates analysed from the BJP, 80% from the Congress, 45% from the AAP, 33% from the BSP and 29% from the UKD have declared assets valued more than 1 crore. The average of assets per candidate is  2.74 crores, while in 2017 elections the average assets per candidate was 1.57 crore.

When it comes to party wise average assets, the average assets per candidate for the 70 Congress candidates is 6.93 crore, 70 BJP candidates is 6.56 crore, 69 AAP candidates is 2.95 crore, 42 UKD candidates is 2.79 crore and 54 BSP candidates is 2.23 crore. One Independent candidate Mohammed Mursleen Qureshi from BHEL Ranipur constituency has declared zero assets in his self-sworn affidavit.

When it comes to educational qualifications, 39% candidates have declared their educational qualifications to be between Class 5th and Class 12th while 55% candidates have declared having an educational qualification of graduate or above and seven candidates are diploma holders. 26 candidates have declared themselves to be just literate and three candidates are illiterate.

In the case of candidates’ age, 27% candidates have declared their age to be between 25 to 40 years, while 57% candidates have declared their age to be between 41 to 60 years. There are 16% candidates who have declared their age to be between 61 to 80 years and 2 candidates have declared they are over 80 years old. There are 62 female (10%) candidates contesting elections this time, comparted to 56 (9%) in 2017.

Out of 626 candidates analysed, 202 are from the national parties, 134 are from the state parties, 137 are from the registered unrecognised parties and 153 candidates are contesting independently. Thirteen out of 70 constituencies are red alert constituencies, where three or more candidates have declared criminal cases against themselves.

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