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regular-article-logo Sunday, 14 April 2024

BJP tops list of winners with cases: Election Watch

According to the study, 59 per cent or 17 of the 29 saffron party MPs and MLAs elected since 2004 have criminal records

Arkamoy Datta Majumdar Calcutta Published 10.03.21, 02:05 AM

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The BJP may have been a marginal force in Bengal before the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, but a recent study conducted by the Bengal chapter of the Election Watch revealed that the saffron party had the highest percentage of MPs and MLAs with criminal cases between 2004 and 2019.

According to the study published virtually on Tuesday, 59 per cent or 17 of the 29 BJP MPs and MLAs elected since 2004 declared criminal cases against them. The report further reveals that 48 per cent or 14 of those lawmakers face serious criminal charges.

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In comparison, in the Trinamul Congress, 32 per cent or 171 of the 520 MPs and MLAs, elected since 2004, have criminal cases. Out of the total number of lawmakers with cases, 151 or 25 per cent have serious charges against them.

“We have studied the affidavits submitted by the candidates in all general and assembly elections, and bypolls since 2004. Of all the elected candidates, the percentage of lawmakers with criminal cases is highest in the BJP,” said Ujjaini Halim, the state coordinator for Election Watch.

A civil society body, West Bengal Election Watch is associated with the Association for Democratic Reforms and works independently towards electoral reforms and good governance. The WBEW has been publishing such studies prior to every Lok Sabha and Assembly poll for over a decade.

In the ensuing Bengal Assembly polls, the affidavits of the candidates who file their nominations will be analysed and similar reports will be published over the eight poll phases, said Halim.

Tuesday’s report also shows that in the state, BJP lawmakers are the wealthiest in terms of average worth of the assets declared by them in their affidavits. The average assets of the 29 BJP MPs and MLAs who have won since 2009 are worth Rs 2.27 crore, followed by 530 Trinamul lawmakers whose average assets are worth Rs 1.55 crore.

In both these parameters, the percentage of tainted lawmakers and average asset worth — the CPM MPs and MLAs found their place at the bottom of the chart. While only 41 or 15 per cent of the 274 CPM lawmakers have criminal cases against them, their average asset is just worth Rs 22.37 lakh.

The study has two broad categories. While it discusses the nature of all the candidates on one hand, on the other, it focuses on the candidates who were finally elected. “We have analysed a total of 6163 affidavits that were filed by the candidates since the 2004 Lok Sabha polls,” Halim said.

Additionally, the WBEW has introduced a new section to this year’s report, which tries to predict the winning chances for a clean candidate and a person with criminal cases. According to the study, the chances of winning for a person with a clean image is only 15 per cent while that of a candidate with criminal cases is 28 per cent.

“Our effort has always been to make voters aware…However, the findings of our winnability analysis is saddening,” Halim told the news conference.

“It is very natural that BJP MPs and MLAs will have more criminal cases against them. This is because the Trinamul government has filed several cases against them just in order to either taint their image or stop them from campaigning in a full-fledged manner. Arjun Singh and Mukul Roy are such examples. None had any case against them when they were in Trinamul and when they switched to the BJP, they were booked under multiple criminal charges,” said election analyst and professor of political science Biswanath Chakraborty.

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