Kolkata: Twenty five per cent of the candidates contesting in the fifth phase of West Bengal assembly elections have declared criminal cases against themselves, according to a report by-poll rights group Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR).
The West Bengal Election Watch and Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) have analysed the self-sworn affidavits of 318 out of 319 candidates from 45 constituencies, who are contesting in the state Assembly Elections Phase IV.
One candidate namely Md. Rafikul Islam of Welfare Party of India from Deganga constituency has not been analysed due to incomplete affidavit available on the ECI website at the time of making this report.
Out of 318 candidates analyzed, 79 (25%) candidates have declared criminal cases against themselves.
There are 64(20%) have declared serious criminal cases against themselves.
Among the major parties, 28(62%) out of 45 candidates analysed from BJP, 18(43%) out of 42 candidates analysed from AITC, 10 (40%) out of 25 candidates analysed from CPI(M) and 2 (18%) out of 11 candidates analysed from INC have declared criminal cases against themselves in their affidavits.
Among the major parties, 23(51%) out of 45 candidates analysed from BJP, 16(38%) out of 42 candidates analysed from AITC, 7(28%) out of 25 candidates analysed from CPI(M) and 1(9%) out of 11 candidates analysed from INC have declared serious criminal cases against themselves in their affidavits.
There are 13 candidates have declared cases related to crime against women. Out of 13 candidates 1 candidate has declared cases related to rape (IPC Section-376).
There are 9 candidates have declared cases related to murder (IPC Section-302) against themselves.
There are 20 candidates have declared cases related to Attempt to murder (IPC Section-307) against themselves.
There are 9(20%) out of 45 constituencies are Red alert constituencies. Red alert constituencies are those where 3 or more contesting candidates have declared criminal cases against themselves.
The directions of the Supreme Court have had no effect on the political parties in selection of candidates in Phase V of the West Bengal Assembly Elections as they have again followed their old practice of giving tickets to around 25% candidates with criminal cases.
All major parties contesting in West Bengal phase V elections have given tickets ranging from 18% to 62% candidates who have declared criminal cases against themselves.
The Supreme Court in its directions dated 13th February, 2020 had specifically instructed political parties to give reasons for such selection and why other individuals without criminal antecedents could not be selected as candidates. As per these mandatory guidelines, the reasons for such selection has to be with reference to qualifications, achievements and merit of the candidate concerned.
During the recent Bihar Assembly elections held in October, 2020 it was observed that political parties gave unfounded and baseless reasons like popularity of the person, does good social work, cases are politically motivated etc.
These are not sound and cogent reasons for fielding candidates with tainted backgrounds. This data clearly shows that political parties have no interest in reforming the electoral system and our democracy will continue to suffer at the hands of lawbreakers who become lawmakers.