| Members of the National Election Watch address a news conference at Shillong Press Club on Tuesday. Picture by UB Photos |
Shillong, Feb. 12: That Meghalaya is a land of paradox is no secret.
Consider this: In the Eleventh Plan period, covering 2007-2012, Meghalaya’s growth rate was a mere 7.3 per cent as against the national target of nine per cent.
There are, however, at least 10 candidates who had contested in 2008 and are seeking re-election in the February 23 polls, with highest asset increase in terms of rupees and percentage-wise in the last five years.
Besides, there are at least 113 crorepatis who are contesting the polls.
The data was provided here today by the Meghalaya Election Watch along with the National Election Watch/Association for Democratic Reforms.
After scrutinising the affidavits of 341 out of 345 contesting candidates, the NGOs concluded that 113 (or 33 per cent) are crorepatis. Five years earlier, 30 out of 325 candidates (or nine per cent) were crorepatis.
In rupees, the maximum growth in assets has been for Congress nominee from Raliang constituency, Comingone Ymbon. He has declared an increase of Rs 24.26 crore (from Rs 1.21 crore in 2008 to Rs 25.48 crore in 2013).
Assets of Metbah Lyngdoh (UDP candidate from Mairang constituency) have increased by Rs 16.29 crore, from Rs 21 crore in 2008 to Rs 37.29 crore in 2013.
Assets of chief minister Mukul Sangma (Ampati constituency) have risen by Rs 11.07 crore, from Rs 3.43 crore in 2008 to Rs 14.5 crore in 2013.
Percentage-wise, the highest percentage increase (39439%) in assets has been declared by Sniawbhalang Dhar, Congress candidate from Nartiang. Dhar’s assets increased from Rs 75,000 in 2008 to Rs 2.96 crore in 2013.
Ampareen Lyngdoh, Congress nominee from East Shillong, has declared an increase of 91.96 per cent in her assets which have risen to Rs 21.86 lakh in 2013.
The top three candidates with highest declared assets are (in decreasing order): Ngaitlang Dhar, Congress candidate from Umroi constituency who has declared assets worth Rs 235.64 crore, followed by Jrop Sing Nongkhlaw of Congress from Shella constituency with Rs 52.01 crore worth of assets and Metbah Lyngdoh of UDP with assets worth Rs 37.29 crore.
Charles G.R. Syngkli of the NCP from Nongpoh constituency has declared that he has assets worth only Rs 2,500. He is followed by Hopingstone Masharing of the HSPDP from Mawhati constituency with assets worth only Rs 6,042 and Markus Lyngdoh of the HSPDP from Umroi constituency with assets worth Rs 9,067.
The top three candidates with highest declared liabilities are (in decreasing order): Metbah Lyngdoh who has declared the highest liabilities worth Rs 11.11 crore followed by Ngaitlang Dhar with liabilities of Rs 9.89 crore and Leston Wanswett, an Independent candidate from Shella constituency, with liabilities of Rs 4.99 crore.
Of the 341 candidates analysed, 13 candidates (or four per cent) have declared criminal cases against them. In 2008, one per cent of the candidates (two out of the 234 candidates analysed) had declared criminal cases against themselves.
Every major political party has given tickets to candidates who have criminal cases against them. Congress has two out of 60, UDP has two out of 50, NPP has one out of 30, HSPDP has one out of 17, Samajwadi Party has one out of 11 and six out of 124 Independent candidates have declared criminal cases.
Of the total 13 candidates who have declared criminal cases, seven have declared serious criminal cases like extortion, sedition, cheating among others. The UDP and the NPP have one candidate each. Five Independent candidates have declared serious criminal charges against themselves. Out of these 13 candidates with self-declared criminal cases, charges have been framed against five candidates in various cases.
A total of 185 (54 per cent) candidates (out of 341 analysed) are graduates or have higher degrees in the Meghalaya 2013 Assembly elections. But there are 23 candidates who have educational qualification equivalent to Class VIII or below.
On the other hand, nine out of the 341 candidates have Phds. A total of eight candidates out of 341 are more than 70 years old. As many as 117 candidates are less than 40.