87 'criminal' candidates in Bengal polls' fourth, fifth phases




By IANS,

Kolkata: A total of 87 candidates of the 341 in the fray in 101 assembly constituencies in the fourth and fifth phases of West Bengal's assembly polls May 3 and 7 have criminal cases pending against them, an election watchdog said Thursday.

The self-declared affidavits of the candidates revealed that of the 87 with criminal backgrounds, the maximum (36) are from Trinamool, followed by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) and the Congress with 24, 13 and five respectively, West Bengal Election Watch (WBEW) said.

WBEW state coordinator Biplab Halim also told media persons here that Trinamool nominees Sekh Sahonawez and Becharam Manna are accused in 15 and 22 cases respectively including murder, attempt murder, kidnapping and theft. Among the ten candidates with serious pending criminal cases, eight are from Trinamool Congress and one each from BJP and Forward Bloc.

A total 172 candidates have declared that they have never filed income tax returns. These include BJP nominee Sujit Pain, who has assets worth Rs.3 crore, and Trinamool's Ajit Maiti, Sandhyarai Tudu and Shaibal Giri and CPI-M's Hedayatullah Chowdhury - all with assets worth over Rs.40 lakh.

As many as 92 of the 341 candidates have not given their PAN details, the WBEW said.

As as 20 of the candidates are 'crorepatis' (millionaires), out of which 14 belong to Trinamool Congress, three to the Socialist Unity Centre of India (Communist) and two each from the BJP and the CPI-M.

The affidavits reveal that Trinamool' Iqbal Ahmed is the richest with assets worth over Rs.7 crore. He is followed by his party colleague, Haider Aziz Safwi with assets worth over Rs.5 crore and CPI-M's Swadesh Ranjan Nayek with assets amounting over Rs.2.5 crore. SUCI (C) candidate Mohan Santra has declared to have no assets at all, said Halim.

"A total of six candidates have declared in their affidavits to have liabilities above several lakh rupees. Prem Chandra Jha of BJP has liabilities over Rs.93 lakh followed by CPI-M nominee Swadesh Ranjan Nayek and Trinamool's Mohammad Soharab Ali," he said.

WBEW is a civil society initiative working on making voters aware of their rights and helping them to make an informed choice in casting their votes.

It also pointed out that among the candidates contesting in the fourth and fifth phases, one is illiterate, three are just literates while 39 are school dropouts. Only 52 have passed secondary examination and 57 have passed higher secondary exam. However, four candidates have not mentioned about their educational backgrounds in their affidavits.

"Nine candidates - four from Trinamool, two each from BJP and CPI-M and one from Congress hold doctorates," added Halim.