Bengaluru: As Karnataka races towards the May 10 Assembly polls, almost all parties are neck-and-neck when it comes to the criminal records of the candidates they have fielded.
According to a report from election watch organisation Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR), Congress party has 31 per cent, BJP has 30 per cent and JDS has 25 per cent candidates with serious criminal cases against them as per the affidavits filed with the Election Commission of India.
The latest ADR report analysing the criminal background as well as the financial, educational, gender and other details of candidates in the Karnataka Assembly Elections-2023, states that 69 out of 221 candidates analysed from Congress, 66 out of 224 candidates analysed from BJP, 52 out of 208 candidates analysed from JD(S) and 30 (14 per cent) out of 208 candidates analysed from AAP have declared serious criminal cases against themselves in their affidavits.
The report said that the overall tally of candidates who have ‘Serious Criminal Cases’ (offence for which maximum punishment is of five years or more) against them stood at 404, or 16 per cent of all the candidates in the 2023 Assembly election.
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This number is at least six per cent higher than that of 2018 Assembly Elections, wherein 254 (10 per cent) candidates had declared serious criminal cases against themselves. Of the 404 candidates with cases against them, 49 candidates have declared cases related to crimes against women, one of which is a case related to rape.
Eight candidates have declared cases related to murder while 35 candidates have declared cases related to attempt to murder. There are 111 ‘red alert’ constituencies in the 224 constituencies. ADR refers to those constituencies as ‘red alert’ where three or more contesting candidates have declared criminal cases against them. In 2018, the number of such constituencies was 56, the organisation said.
The average of assets per candidate contesting in 2023 is Rs 12.26 crore, ADR said adding that in the 2018 Assembly elections, average assets per candidate for 2,560 candidates was Rs 7.54 crore.
Among major parties, the average assets per candidate for 221 Congress candidates analysed was Rs 49.83 crore, 224 BJP candidates was Rs 39.41 crore, 208 JD(S) candidates was Rs 24.45 crore, and 208 AAP candidates was Rs 4.25 crore, ADR said.
The ADR survey said Yousuf Sharif alias KGF Babu was the richest candidate in the fray. Contesting as an independent from Chickpet constituency in Bengaluru city, he has assets worth Rs 1,634 crore approximately.
Next to Sharif is sitting BJP minister N Nagaraju alias MTB Nagaraj who is fighting from Hoskote in Bengaluru rural district. Nagaraju has declared assets of Rs 1,610 crore approximately.
The Congress state president D K Shivakumar who is contesting the election from Kanakapura constituency in Ramanagara district near Bengaluru is the third richest candidate in the fray with assets of Rs 1,413 crore, ADR said.
According to ADR, Priya Krishna, who is contesting on the Congress ticket from Govindarajanagar constituency in Bengaluru South has the highest liabilities of Rs 881 crore, though he is the fourth wealthiest candidate with assets of Rs 1,156 crore. He also has disputed liabilities of Rs 65 crore.
Next highest in liabilities comes D K Shivakumar with Rs 265 crore liabilities, though he also has disputed liabilities of Rs 246 crore, ADR said. The JD(S) candidate for Bommanahalli constituency K Narayan Raju comes third with Rs 125 crore liabilities and 15 crore disputed liabilities. He has assets worth Rs 417 crore, according to ADR.
It also said that 1,243 (48 per cent) candidates had declared their educational qualifications to be between fifth and twelfth standard while 1,108 (43 per cent) candidates have declared having an educational qualification of graduate or above. Only 150 candidates are diploma holders, while 47 have declared themselves to be just literate while 37 candidates are illiterate. One candidate has not given his educational qualification, ADR said.