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The Congress has fielded the highest number of "tainted candidates" in the second and last phase of the assembly polls in Odisha to be held April 17, an election watchdog here said on Sunday.

At least 39 of the 77 candidates from the Congress contesting the elections in the second phase have criminal cases against them, Election Watch state coordinator Ranjan Mohanty told IANS.

Election Watch based its information on the affidavits filed by candidates with the Election Commission together with their nomination papers.

LS polls: Congress leads list of tainted candidates in Odisha

Election Watch based its information on the affidavits filed by candidates with the EC and their nomination papers.

The state's ruling Biju Janata Dal and the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party followed in the second and third spots on the list, respectively fielding 34 and 29 candidates with criminal background.

Rabindra Kumar Jarika, candidate of new political outfit Aama Odisha Party who is contesting from Sukinda assembly constituency in Jajpur district, has the highest 70 criminal cases against him.

The cases against him include criminal intimidation, attempt to murder, theft, voluntarily causing hurt to deter public servant and damaging public property.

A total of 747 candidates are in the fray in the second phase of the assembly elections.

As many as 186 of the candidates have declared criminal cases, of whom 144 have serious criminal cases, including murder, rape, kidnapping, crimes against women etc., against them, Mohanty said.

A total of 21 have declared murder and attempt to murder related cases in their affidavits. Similarly, 20 candidates have declared cases of crimes against women.

The polling was held on Thursday for 10 Lok Sabha and 70 assembly seats. Balloting for the remaining 11 Lok Sabha and 77 assembly seats from the state would be held April 17.

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