With just five more days left for the assembly election, Tamil Nadu is all set for a multi-cornered fight for the first time in its electoral history.
Touted as the most expensive one comparing other poll-bound states, the Tamil Nadu election this time features a total of 3,776 candidates. Interestingly, a large number of them are either super rich or have criminal background.
An analysis of candidates' affidavits by Tamil Nadu Election Watch and Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) shows that 553 candidates are crorepatis and 283 have criminal cases registered against them.
The ADR, which analysed affidavits of 997 of 1,107 prominent candidates, said 28 per cent of them have declared criminal cases against them.
Dr Sudharshan, the Tamil Nadu coordinator of the ADR said, “As many as 157, that is 16 per cent of the candidates, have been booked for serious offenses, including murder, attempted murder, theft and crimes against women.”
Five candidates—T. Ramachandran (CPI - Thali constituency), K.P.P. Samy (DMK - Tiruvotriyur), R. Hariharan (PMK - Vilavancode), R. Kalidas (PMK - Kalasapakkam) and M. Palaniyandi (DMK - Srirangam)—are booked for alleged murders, he added. Of them, Ramachandran alone have three murders cases registered against him.
As per the affidavites, 10 candidates of INC, 26 of BJP, 47 of AIADMK, 68 of DMK, 66 of PMK, 41 of DMDK and eight of CPI(M) have declared criminal cases against themselves, the report said.
A total of 28 constituencies have three or more candidates from major parties with declared criminal cases. The survey labels these areas as red alert constituencies.
Of the total candidates analysed, eight are facing cases related to crimes against women. Of the 553 crorepatis, the single highest number belongs to the DMK—133. The party has a total of 170 candidates in the fray.
The report says 32 of 37 from Congress, 64 of 176 from BJP, 156 of 217 from AIADMK, 133 of 170 from DMK, 72 of 211 from PMK and 57 of 98 from DMDK are super rich. All these candidates have declared assets worth more than Rs 1 crore or above in their affidavits.
The average assets of the 997 major party candidates analysed, like the DMK, AIADMK, Congress, PMK, INC and the DMDK, says the ADR report, is 4.35 crore. Of all the analysed candidates, only two have declared zero assets in their self-sworn affidavits.
Moreover, 114 candidates have not declared their Permanent Account Number (PAN) details, while 284 have not declared income tax details, the report said, adding that 454 candidates have have not gone beyond higher secondary schooling. Only 488 of the total analysed candidates have completed graduation. Six have declared themselves literates, and six: illiterates, the report said.
ADR also gives ages of the candidates. As usual, Tamil Nadu has a mix of young and aged candidates this time. When there are at least a crore young voters, there are only 537 candidates between the age of 25 and 50 years.
As may as 458 are between the ages of 51 and 80. Two are more than 80 years old. Only 96 of the 997 major party candidates are women.