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In Odisha, seventy assembly candidates have significant criminal histories

Similar to their Lok Sabha counterparts, 33% of candidates from all parties in the state’s phase two Assembly elections are facing criminal prosecutions.

 

On May 20, elections will be held in as many as 35 Assembly segments that fall under five Lok Sabha constituencies: Bargarh, Sundargarh, Balangir, Kandhamal, and Aska across nine districts. Odisha Election Watch and the Association of Democratic Reforms (ADR) examined the backgrounds of 265 candidates, 41 of them were women, and found that 87 of them had filed criminal cases, with 70 of them facing severe charges. Eleven candidates are accused of crimes against women, 16 have cases pertaining to attempted murder, and five have stated charges involving murder.

Of the 35 candidates from the main parties, 28 have revealed criminal offenses in their affidavits, followed by 17 from the Congress and 9 from the BJD. Serious allegations have been brought against eight BJD candidates, twelve Congress candidates, and a maximum of twenty BJP candidates.

14 Assembly districts where three or more of the candidates have filed criminal charges have been designated as red alert seats by the ADR. An ADR member noted that the political parties are still fielding candidates with criminal charges, demonstrating that they are unaffected by the Supreme Court’s directives.

The fact that 95 of the main political parties’ nominees are crorepatis and all of them from affluent backgrounds further illustrates the influence of money power in elections. According to the research, a maximum of 30 (86%) BJD candidates, 24 (69%) BJP candidates, and 24 (73%) Congress candidates have reported assets worth more than Rs 1 crore. The average amount of assets held by each candidate running in the second phase is Rs 3.98 crore; however, for the BJP, BJD, and Congress, it is Rs 13.11 crore, Rs 12.09 crore, and Rs 2.95 crore.

The wealthiest candidate is Dilip Ray of the BJP for Rourkela, with assets worth over Rs 313.53 crore. Next in line is Kalikesh Narayan Singh Deo of the BJD, who is running for Balangir and has assets worth over Rs 73.66 crore. With assets over Rs 71 crore, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik is the third wealthiest person. He is running for the seats of Kantabanji and Hinjili. Pradip Sahu, an independent candidate from Boudh, has the fewest assets—just Rs 7,000. Dipali Das, the BJD candidate for Jharsuguda, has the highest liabilities at Rs 19.39 crore.

Approximately 50% of the applicants said that they had completed between the fifth and the twelfth grades, and 122 said they had graduated or higher. 50 applicants are elderly adults, 150 are between the ages of 41 and 60, and one-fourth of the candidates are between the ages of 25 and 40.

 

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