The NGO, West Bengal Election Watch (WBEW) which analysed the affidavits of 1255 out of the 1792 nominees who are in the poll fray for the 294 assembly seats, found the startling fact that there were as many as 260 among them with criminal cases pending in their names.
Among the 260, the maximum number went to Trinamool Congress which had a record 81 candidates who has a dark criminal side, while the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) came next with 48. The ruling Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) had a modest 38 candidates with pending criminal cases, with the Congress low down on the table with 28. The rest were divided among allies of the Left parties and other smaller regional parties.
There are other records broken in the West Bengal elections as well. An independent nominee Chhatradhar Mahato, also a jailed convener of a pro-Maoist tribal outfit in West Midnapore, is a chartbuster of sorts with a whopping 31 cases only in his name. Others who have charges against them are Trinamool nominees Becharam Manna, Sekh Sahonawez and Idris Ali who have 22, 15 and five cases respectively. The charges include murder, attempt to murder, kidnapping and theft.
There are other offences the candidates are part of, like the fact that close to 552 candidates had not filed their income tax returns; another 330 had not given their Permanent Account Number (PAN) details, according to WBEW state coordinator Biplab Halim.
If their criminal past was something that can be ignored, their educational qualifications are sure to stump you. The affidavit showed that, of the 1255 candidates, three were illiterate, 12 barely literate, 265 school dropouts, 105 secondary school passed and 124 passing the higher secondary examinations. There were another 8 candidates who have not mentioned their educational qualifications at all. All the rest are degree holders.