68 with criminal cases, 56 crorepatis in Bengal polls second phase

Kolkata : As many as 68 of the 383 candidates contesting in the second phase of the West Bengal assembly polls have declared criminal cases, including serious offences like murder and rape.

According to a report released by West Bengal Election Watch (WBEW) on Tuesday, at least 56 nominees — or 15 percent of the total candidates — are crorepatis.

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A total of 56 constituencies spread across the five districts of Jalpaiguri, Alipurduar, Darjeeling, Malda and Birbhum will go to the hustings on April 17 in the second phase.

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the ruling Trinamool Congress with 13 each, have the most numbers of candidates facing criminal charges, followed by the Communist Party of India-Marxist with 11 and the Congress with 6 candidates.

“A lot has been discussed about the pre-poll and during the poll violence, but when candidates have such criminal charges against them, no wonder violence becomes part and parcel of elections,” said WBEW coordinator Biplab Halim, while releasing the report.

The report also reveals that 136 serious criminal cases are pending against 59 of the contesting candidates, with the pendency period of the cases ranging from two years to 16 years.

On the financial front, 56 candidates have assets in excess of Rs.1 crore, with Rs.54.21 lakh being the average assets of the 383 candidates in the fray.

Former India football captain and Trinamool nominee from Siliguri Baichung Bhutia with assets in excess of Rs.17.41 crore, heads the crorepati candidates list.

The Trinamool with 23 has the most number of crorepati candidates followed by the BJP with 10, the Congress with 8 while the CPI-M has just one.

The report also reveals that the average assets of each of the 45 sitting legislators re-contesting the polls in the phase, has increased by 180.09 percent from 2011 to 2016.

Former Congress legislator Abu Nasar Khan Choudhury, who is contesting the polls as a Trinamool nominee this year, has seen his assets grow by a whopping 1,138.03 percent in the last five years to reach Rs.3.39 crore.

In 2011, when Khan had contested as a Congress nominee, he had declared assets in excess of Rs.29.77 lakh.

Of the 383 candidates, only 33 are women.