CHENNAI: Political parties in the State have ignored the directives of the Supreme Court as 13 per cent (466 candidates) of 3,559 candidates contesting in the State Assembly elections on April 6 have declared criminal cases against them, according to a study done by Association of Democratic Reforms (ADR) and National Election Watch.
The study, which analyses the criminal background, asset value, education, gender, and other details of candidates, states that 74 (32 per cent) of the total 234 constituencies are ‘red alert’ constituencies, where three or more candidates contesting have declared criminal cases against themselves.
The study was done by analysing the self-sworn affidavits of 3,559 out of 3,998 candidates from all constituencies. Of those analysed, 202 are from national parties, 489 from State parties, 1,001 are from registered but unrecognised parties, and 1,867 are independents. A total of 439 candidates could not be analysed as either their affidavits were badly scanned or incomplete on the Election Commission of India website.
“The directions of the Supreme Court have had no effect on the political parties in selection of candidates in the Tamil Nadu Assembly elections as they have again followed their old practice of giving tickets to candidates with criminal cases, around 13 per cent this time. All major parties have given tickets to candidates who have declared criminal cases against themselves, in the range of 20-76 per cent,” the report stated.
The Supreme Court, in its directions dated February 13, 2020, specifically instructed political parties to give reasons for such selection and why other individuals without criminal antecedents could not be chosen as candidates. As per these mandatory guidelines, the reasons for such selections have to be with reference to qualifications, achievements and merits of the candidate concerned.
“The 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,” the report stated. A total of 136 (76 per cent) of the 176 candidates from the DMK have criminal cases against them, of which, 50 (28 per cent) have serious cases. The ruling AIADMK has cases against 46 (24 per cent) of the 191 candidates. Among them, 18 (9 per cent) have serious cases against them.
Interestingly, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), an ally of the ruling AIADMK, has cases against 15 (75 per cent) of its 20 candidates. Of which, eight (40 per cent) have cases of serious offences against them. Even the Indian National Congress (INC) has cases against 15 (71 per cent) of the 21 candidates, of which, six (29 per cent) have cases of serious offences against them.
The list of candidates includes leader of Opposition MK Stalin, Minister MR Vijayabhaskar, GK Mani of PMK, S Vijayadharini of Congress, K Ponmudy of DMK, KN Nehru of DMK, NR Dhanapalan of AIADMK, V Senthil Bhalaji of DMK, Seeman of Naam Thamizhar Katchi, and SS Agri Krishnamoorthy of AIADMK, among others.
Similarly, 18 (30 per cent) of the 60 candidates from Desiya Murpokku Dravidar Kazhagam, 10 (44 per cent) of 23 candidates from Pattali Makkal Katchi, 3 (60 per cent) of 5 candidates from CPI(M), 2 (50 per cent) of 4 candidates from CPI, and 1 (20%) of 5 candidates from Nationalist Congress Party have declared criminal cases against themselves in their affidavits.
According to the report, 1,731 (49 per cent) candidates have declared their educational qualifications to be between 5th and 12th standard, while 1,443 (41 per cent) candidates have declared it to be graduation-level or above. A total of 193 candidates are Diploma holders, 106 are illiterate and 61 just literate. Twenty five candidates have not disclosed their educational qualifications.
This time, a total of 1,451 (41 per cent) candidates are in the age group of 25-40 years, which is less than the 49 per cent of candidates in the age group of 41-60 years. There are 348 (10 per cent) candidates who have declared their age to be between 61 and 80 years and three candidates more than 80 years of age. One Independent candidate, Raghupathy P (24 years), from Vikravandi constituency, is the youngest to contest this Assembly polls.
The AIADMK has the most number of crorepatis (164 of 191 candidates) contesting the polls, followed by the DMK (155 of 178), Congress (19 of 21), BJP (15 of 20), AMMK (65 of 104), and Makkal Needhi Maiam (51 of 156).
8 candidates have declared cases related to crime against women. Of these, one has declared cases related to rape (IPC Section-376)
7 candidates have declared cases related to murder (IPC Section-302) against themselves
39 candidates have declared cases related to attempt to murder (IPC Section-307) against themselves
Chart topper BJP
Interestingly, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), an ally of the ruling AIADMK, has cases against 15 (75 per cent) of its 20 candidates