Money & muscle power counts

Wealthy men welcome for Assembly polls

By Dipak Mishra in Patna
  • Published 11.07.15
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VICTORY VOTES

BJP workers celebrate the Council poll victory at the party office on Friday. 
Picture by Nagendra Kumar Singh

Patna, July 10: The elections to 24 Legislative Council seats have representatives of the people as the electorate. It is hardly about the common man.

Not surprisingly, all political parties searched for "suitable candidates" for all the 24 seats. "We selected candidates who could match the JDU, RJD and Congress candidates in both money and muscle power," boasted a senior BJP leader a few days ago. The selection appears to have worked as the NDA gained a psychological advantage just before the crucial Assembly polls. However, in the heart of heart, every politician knows that these elections do not reflect the popular mood of the people.

Just a few statistics will show that many of those given tickets were crorepatis or faced criminal charges. Almost 77 of the 170 candidates who contested the polls were millionaires. The average asset per candidate in the election was Rs 5.28 crore. The average asset of 17 BJP candidates was Rs 29.33 crore, of 10 JDU candidates Rs 14.27 crore and of 10 RJD candidates Rs 4.99 crore.

Sachchidanand Rai, successful candidate from Saran, declared assets of Rs 407 crore and the JDU's Rohtas candidate Anil Singh over Rs 74 crore. All parties chose candidates who had "money to spare".

Cash and kind is distributed generously among voters. "More than caste or political affiliation, it is money that matters," said a JDU leader.

The parties also did not hesitate to field candidates having criminal backgrounds. Of the 17 candidates the BJP fielded, as many as four declared criminal cases in their affidavit. Six of the 10 JDA candidates and five of the 10 RJD candidates, too, face criminal cases. Successful Independent candidate from Patna, Ritlal Yadav, is a history-sheeter who won while in Beur jail. At least one JDU candidate from Aurangabad declared he faces charges of kidnapping. Forty-one of the 170 candidates declared they face charges of serious crime, like murder, kidnapping and crime against women.

The candidates were not grassroots political workers. The BJP's Sachchidanand Raiis a contractor and transporter. The successful BJP candidate from Saran, Tunna Pandey, is in liquor trade, so also his rival Vinod Jaiswal. Sasaram's successful BJP candidate Santosh Singh is in the stone-crushing trade. Ashok Agarwal, Independent candidate supported by BJP from Katihar, is a major businessman. JDU's Nalanda candidate Raju Yadav is a contractor. No party ever thought of fielding genuine party workers, it seems.

Political observers feel the parties are feeling the heat with Assembly polls approaching. "Candidates were picked on the basis of financial status and help they can provide in the Assembly polls," said a senior Congress leader stressing that no party was in a position to point a finger at the other.

But MLAs who have to face the electorate are worried. "The funds injected into each seat varies from Rs 5 crore to Rs 10 crore. The electorate was bribed to vote. Voters will now expect candidates to buy their votes during polls too, where just one seat will have more voters than all 24 council seats put together," said a BJP MLA.