The Hindu
Staff Reporter

A total of 253 candidates in the running for first phase of West Bengal polls

27 have serious criminal cases like murder, attempt to murder, extortion pending

143 candidates have admitted to never filing an income tax return

Kolkata: Out of the 253 candidates fielded by major political parties for the first phase of State Assembly elections in West Bengal, 49 have been found to have criminal backgrounds, according to State Election Watch, an initiative of multi-stakeholders of civil society.

Moreover, of these 49 candidates, 27 have submitted in their affidavits details of serious criminal cases like murder, attempt to murder, extortion, collecting arms with the intention of waging war against the country and promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, race and language pending against them.

Both the Communist Party of India (Marxist) and the Congress top the list of candidates with serious offences pending against them – each fielding five such candidates.

While the Bharatiya Janata Party has nominated four candidates with serious cases against them, the Trinamool Congress, the All India Forward Bloc and the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha each have fielded three such candidates.

“The figures clearly show that all requests of civil society to the political parties to give nominations to ‘clean' candidates went in vain. All the figures are based on the affidavits filed by the candidates at the time of filing nomination,” said Biplab Halim, State Coordinator of national Election Watch, at a press conference.

While there are nine crorepati candidates in the list, interestingly a total of 143 candidates have admitted to never filing an income tax return and 92 candidates have not even given PAN details.

The Revolutionary Party of India candidate from Malatipur constituency, Abdur Rahim Boxi, is worth mentioning in this respect as he has never filed an income tax return despite the fact that he owns property worth more than a crore.

Education-wise, four candidates have doctorate degrees, 29 are post-graduates, 70 are graduates, 44 have passed senior secondary, 38 are matriculates, 42 are 8th Pass, and five are barely literate while one candidate is illiterate, according to Election Watch.

Meanwhile, even as all the parties make tall claims about gender-equality, they fared poorly when giving tickets to woman candidates.

Only 28 women

From among the candidates, only 28 are women, with the CPI (M) topping the list by fielding seven woman candidates.

Pointing out that the current West Bengal Legislative Assembly met for only 239 days in the past five years, Mr. Halim said that the average attendance of the members was 164 days with senior CPI (M) Ministers like Goutam Deb and Ashok Bhattacharya attending sessions for only 70 and 83 days respectively.

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