Amit Shah with Shivraj Singh Chouhan and others during an election roadshow in support of Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur in Bhopal. (Source: PTI)

1 in 5 Candidates Accused of a Heinous Crime in India’s Election

(Bloomberg) --

Almost one in every five candidates contesting in India’s election is accused of committing a heinous crime, according to independent analysis.

About 19% of those standing in the election face charges including rape, murder and kidnapping, New-Delhi based Association of Democratic Reforms said Monday, citing signed affidavits submitted to the Election Commission.

"There is a continuous increase in the proportion of candidates who have criminal cases against them," said Jagdeep Chhokar, a founding member of ADR. "Everyone, including voters and political parties, need to think why people with criminal cases are given tickets."

India’s law bars a person convicted of any offense and sentenced to an imprisonment of two years or more from fighting elections. Those facing charges are free to run as the over-burdened judicial system can take decades to resolve a case. The proportion of such candidates was 17% in 2014 election, up from 15% in 2009.

1 in 5 Candidates Accused of a Heinous Crime in India’s Election

About 40% of the candidates fielded by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party have a criminal case against them. Key opposition party Congress is not far behind with 39% of the candidates with criminal charges. The proportion is above 50% for some political parties.

As many as 900 million Indians are voting in the world’s biggest election that will conclude on May 23. India’s enforcement agencies have so far seized cash, liquor, drugs, gold and other contraband worth 34 billion rupees ($484 million) as politicians try to win over voters.

That explains the rise of millionaires in the world’s costliest polls. About 29% of the candidates have declared assets of more than 10 million rupees, compared with 27% in 2014. The percentage is as high as 83% for both the ruling BJP and rival Congress, the research showed.

Other Key Points:

  • Only 48% candidates are graduates
  • Over 60% are below 50 years of age
  • Just 9% of candidates are women

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