A study of the affidavits submitted by 191 candidates contesting in the first phase of the West Bengal Assembly elections has revealed that 48 of them, or about 25%, have declared their criminal records, according to a report by the Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR).

The report said 42 candidates had declared serious criminal cases against themselves. Such offences include crimes for which the maximum punishment is five years or more.

Among the major parties, 12 (or 41%) of the 29 Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) candidates; 10 (35%) of the 29 Trinamool Congress (TMC) candidates; 10 (56%) of the 18 Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) candidates; two (33%) of the six Congress candidates; three (11%) of the 28 Socialist Unity Centre of India-Communist (SUCI-C); and one (9%) of the 11 Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) candidates have declared criminal cases in their affidavits. In all, 11 BJP candidates have serious criminal cases against themselves, as do nine CPI (M), eight TMC, one Congress and two SUCI(C) candidates.

While 12 candidates have declared cases related to crime against women, one of them faced a rape charge. Eight candidates are involved in murder cases and 19 are involved in attempted murder cases.

Seven of the 30 constituencies going to polls in the first phase have been described as “red alert” constituencies. “Red alert constituencies are those where three or more contesting candidates have declared criminal cases against themselves,” said the report.

The ADR found that 19 of the 191 candidates were “crorepatis”. Nine TMC candidates, four BJP, two each from CPI (M) and Congress and one each from SUCI (C) and the BSP had declared assets valued more than ₹1 crore. The average of assets per candidate contesting in the first phase was about ₹43.77 lakh.

Party wise, the average assets per candidate for TMC is ₹89.68 lakh, followed by ₹85.28 lakh for the BJP; ₹80.50 lakh for the Congress; ₹41.10 lakh for CPI(M); ₹27.07 lakh for the BSP; and ₹21.56 lakh for SUCI(C). Four candidates, Anandi Tudu and Manas Sarkar of the BSP, and Dipak Kumar and Bhagirath Mahato of SUCI (C), have declared zero assets.

In all, 73 (38%) candidates have declared liabilities in their affidavits and 13 (7%) have not declared their PAN details

The report said that 96 (50%) candidates had declared their educational qualifications to be between Class V and Class XII, while 92 (48%) were graduates or above, and three were diploma holders. In terms of age, 53 (28%) candidates are from 25 to 40 years of age and 109 (57%) candidates are from 41 to 60 years of age. There are 29 (15%) candidates who have declared their age to be between 61 to 80 years.

A total of 21 (11%) female candidates are contesting in the first phase of the polls.

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