The Association of Democratic Rights on Thursday said the chances of a crorepati candidate with criminal background winning elections today are much higher than a candidate who is non-crorepati and law-abiding.
According to the ADR, with each passing election the number of criminals contesting elections has increased.
The electoral reform watchdog analysed the results of three Lok Sabha elections that took place in 2004, 2009 and 2014, and the findings have revealed that money and muscle power are powerful combination for the present-day election candidates.
ADR coordinator for Goa, Bhasker Assoldekar said the results also hold true for Goa where in the 2017 state assembly elections it was found that 37 out of the 40 elected representatives were crorepatis.
Besides being crorepatis and candidates with criminal records, the elected MLAs also lack in formal education.
“Previously the state assembly comprised MLAs from a cross-section of society such as lawyers, doctors and teachers. But currently the majority of Goan MLAs are businessmen,” he explained.
The ADR has been advocating better use of the information disclosed by the candidates in their affidavits submitted during the filing of nomination papers. Unlike previous disclosures, candidates this time have to give information on assets owned by them, their spouses as well as dependants. The financial information is for a period of five years.
Furthermore the candidate also has to submit information on offshore holdings of assets.
ADR has advocated a relook at candidates whose asset value has increased significantly in recent years and who show a mismatch between the assets and income-tax returns.
“The assets need to be valued at market price and not the historic price,” the ADR said.
The watchdog has also observed that candidates tend not to divulge crucial information in their affidavits, or sometimes leave the columns blank.
The Election Commission for the first time has made it compulsory for candidates with criminal background to publish information in three newspapers. A political party that is fielding candidates with criminal background also has to publish information on criminal records in newspapers.
“It is necessary that political parties are informed on the changes in the affidavit and comply with the additional facts,” Assoldekar said.
In case of non-compliance, the returning officers gives a written reminder to them and in the event of non-compliance till the end of the elections a decision is taken by the state chief election commissioner who intimates the EC.