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Sarthak Gupta

Nearly one-third of the candidates inthe fray for the 26 seats in the first phase of assembly elections on November 25 in Jharkhand have a criminal past, according to civil society groups. Almost all the major political parties have fielded candidateswith serious charges against them.

Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR), a civil society group and the National Election Watch (NEW) examined the affidavits filed by the 302 of the total 470 candidates in fray, discovered that 108 (35.76 per cent) were named in criminal cases or were facing cases in different courts.

Of the 108 candidates, 48 candidates (15.89 per cent of examined affidavits) are currently facing serious charges like committing murder and attempt to murder. Their report was released to the media on Sunday.

All the major political parties have fielded candidates facing serious criminal charges like abduction, murder, attempt to murder, dacoity and robbery.

Former chief minister Sibu Soren-led Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) has fielded its candidatesfrom 25 seats, out of total 26 seats of the first phase. Of 25, 19 candidates have criminal cases pending against them. These candidates have furnished the details of the cases pending against them in affidavits filed before the Returning Officers as is now mandatory.

The Congress has 11 candidates, out of its total 18 candidates in the first phase, with criminal cases, followed by the Bhartiya Janta Party (BJP), which has nine of its 22, facing criminalcharges.

The JMM also tops in the number of candidates with serious criminal charges against them. It has seven candidates with serious charges followed by the Jharkhand Vikas Morcha (JVM) with five. The Congress, the All India Trinamool Congress too have fielded five people with serious criminal charges. The Rashtriya Janata Dal has four candidates facing serious chargesand the BJP has one candidate.

Releasing the analysis report here, the NEW's Jharkhand Coordinator Sudhir Pal said, they would prepare similar reports before every phase of polling in Jharkhand after examining the affidavits of candidates. Pal said, the NEW, a nationwide campaign comprising of hundreds of NGOs and other citizen- led organizations, had been working on electoral reforms, improving democracy and governance in the country.

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