Punjab will see as many as 23 candidates who are facing serious criminal charges contesting the ongoing Lok Sabha polls as against 18 such candidates who had contested 2009 general elections.

Besides, 56 candidates out of total 253 contestants in fray have declared assets more than Rs 1 crore with BJP candidates possessing maximum average assets size of Rs 60 crore, as per analysis of candidates' affidavits carried out by the Association of Democratic Reforms (ADR).

Assets size of eight candidates, who are recontesting Lok Sabha polls, grew in the range of 44 per cent to over 300 per cent as against their wealth in 2009 polls.

"Out of 253 candidates analysed in Punjab, 23 (9 per cent) candidates have declared criminal cases pending against themselves. In 2009 polls, 18 (8 per cent) out of 215 candidates had declared criminal cases which were pending," DR founder member Jagdeep Chhokar said.

20 candidates have declared serious criminal cases including attempt to murder, criminal intimidation etc, he added.

Among political parties, out of 23 candidates with criminal cases, Congress, SAD (Amritsar) and CPI (ML) have fielded 1 candidate each in the Lok Sabha polls, the report said.

Chokkar informed that there were three candidates who are in fray in Punjab are facing charge of attempt to murder which includes Simarjeet Singh Bains (Independent from Ludhiana), Dharminder (Independent from Jalandhar) and Gurnam Singh (Independent from Khadoor Sahib).

There are four Lok Sabha constituencies including Ludhiana, Khadoor Sahib, Bathinda and Amritsar in Punjab where at least 3 candidates each have criminal background, said the report.

Out of 253 candidates contesting polls, SAD candidate from Fatehgarh Sahib Kulwant Singh, Congress nominee from Anandpur Sahib Ambika Soni and BJP candidate from Amritsar Arun Jaitley are top three candidates with highest assets worth Rs 139 crore, Rs 118 crore and Rs 113 crore respectively.

Out of 56 crorepati candidates, Congress has fielded 12, Aam Aaadmi Party (AAP) 8 and SAD 10 candidates whose assets were in excess of Rs 1 crore.

Among party-wise average assets, three BJP candidates declared average assets of Rs 60 crore followed by 10 of SAD at Rs 34 crore and 13 of Congress party at Rs 32 crore.

The analysis said that among candidates having high income, SAD candidate from Bathinda Harsmirat Kaur Badal declared income to the tune of Rs 4.91 crore, SAD candidate from Fatehgarh Sahib Kulwant Singh at Rs 4.34 crore and BJP candidate Arun Jaitley at Rs 3.19 crore.

Average assets per candidate in these Lok Sabha polls stood at Rs 4.48 crore, rising from average assets of Rs 1.66 crore in 2009 Lok Sabha polls.

As many as nine candidates are illiterate while 29 candidates hold post graduate degrees, as per ADR.

Sharing information about women contestants, he said Congress, SAD and AAP have fielded 2 females each in these Lok Sabha polls while BJP has not fielded any woman candidate.

Among party wise average assets of recontesting candidates, average assets of five candidates of Congress party grew by 128 per cent while assets of three SAD candidates jumped by 87 per cent as against assets in 2009 polls.

Top 10 candidates with high liabilities included SAD nominee Harsimrat Badal at Rs 41 crore, SAD candidate Kulwant Singh at Rs 17 crore and Arun Jaitley at Rs 8 crore.

There were also some candidates who have not declared income tax details which include BSP candidate from Fatehgarh Sahib Sarabjeet Singh (Rs 3 crore assets), AAP candidate from Gurdaspur Sucha Singh Chhotepur (Rs 3 crore assets).

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