By Quaid Najmi
Criminals and moneybags account for a large chunk of the candidates fielded by the top five mainstream parties in the Oct 15 Maharashtra assembly elections, a survey by watchdog bodies has said.
Of the 4,119 candidates, the Maharashtra Election Watch and Association for Democratic Reforms (MEW-ADR) analysed affidavits of 2,336 nominees – 1,318 of them of the Congress, the Nationalist Congress Party, the Bharatiya Janata Party, the Shiv Sena and the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena. The remaining candidates were from smaller parties.
“Of these, 798 (34 percent) have declared having some or the other criminal cases against them, while 537 (23 percent) have serious cases like murder, kidnapping, attempt to murder, crimes against women and communal disharmony against them. Of the 798, as many as 341 (43 percent) have had charges framed against them in a court of law,” a MEW-ADR official said.
Of the 1,318 candidates fielded by the five main parties, 640 (49 percent) have criminal cases, with 425 (32 percent) falling in the serious crimes category.
The MEW-ADRs party-wise analysis shows that the Shiv Sena has maximum candidates with criminal antecedents – 169 (61 percent) out of 278, followed by the BJP’s 138 (53 percent) out of 258, MNS’s 118 (54 percent) out of 218, NCP’s 119 (43 percent) out of 277 and the least, the Congress’ 96 (33 percent) out of its 287 candidates.
In the serious crimes category among these parties, MEW-ADR found that MNS has 91 candidates (42 percent), the Shiv Sena 114 (41 percent), the BJP 84 (33 percent), the NCP 80 (29 percent) and the Congress 56 (20 percent).
Among the candidates of the five parties with serious crimes against them, there are 12 charged with murder, 44 with attempt to murder, 69 of crimes against women, 32 with kidnapping, 52 for robberies-dacoities and 13 for communal disharmony.
Of the 288 assembly constituencies, the MEW-ADR has termed 156 as Red Alert constituencies which have at least three or more candidates with criminal records. In Mumbai, Kalina, Anushakti Nagar and Bandra east and Raigad’s Uran each have seven such candidates.
In the financial analyses, of the 2,336 candidates studied, 1,095 (47 percent) are minimum rich crorepatis, while from the 1,318 of the five main parties, 958 (73 percent) are in this august category.
Among the super-rich of the total (2,336), 236 candidates declared assets worth more than Rs.10 crore each, with eight ultra-rich candidates having more than Rs. 100 crore.
The BJP’s Dindoshi (Mumbai) candidate Mohit Kamboj has declared assets of Rs.353 crore, followed by the Shiv Sena’s Phaltan (Satara) candidate N.Y. Tasgaonkar declaring Rs.211 crore, the BJP’s Malabar Hill (Mumbai) candidate M.P. Lodha at Rs.198 crore and the Shiv Sena’s Jalgaon City (Jalgaon) nominee Sureshdada Jain at Rs.182 crore.
Then, there is the Samajwadi Party’s Mankhurd (Mumbai) nominee Abu Asim Azmi at Rs.156 crore, the NCP’s Sion-Koliwada (Mumbai) nominee P.M. Lad at Rs.126 crore, the BJP’s Vadgaon-Sheri (Pune) nominee J.T. Muluk at Rs.104 crore and the Bahujan Vikas Aghadi nominee from Vasai (Palghar district) Hitendra V. Thakur at Rs.100 crore.
In the party-wise break-up, the NCP bags the crown with 229 (83 percent) of its 277 candidates being crorepatis, the BJP’s 210 (81 percent), the Congress’ 222 (77 percent), the Shiv Sena’s 197 (71 percent) and the least, MNS’ 100 (46 percent).
At the other extreme, 14 of the total 2,336 candidates have declared zero assets!