Of the candidates contesting in phase two of the 17th Lok Sabha elections on April 18, 251 (16%) have declared they are facing criminal cases, of which 167 (11%) face serious criminal charges, as per an analysis of candidates’ affidavits by the Association for Democratic Reforms. The figures come from the affidavits of 1,590 of the 1,644 candidates contesting in phase two, as the affidavits of 54 candidates were illegible or incomplete.
About 27% or 423 of 1,590 candidates have declared assets worth Rs 1 crore or more. Among the major parties, all candidates of the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam are crorepatis, as are 96% (23 of 24) of Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam candidates. Assets include total movable and immovable assets of the candidate, his or her spouse and dependents.
Candidates filing nomination papers for contesting an election have to submit an affidavit (Form 26) furnishing personal details that include details of income and assets, with PAN and income tax return as proof. A candidate also has to list the details of any criminal cases he or she has been charged with. If a candidate is found to have filed a false affidavit, he or she can be imprisoned for up to six months and/or made to pay a fine.
The affidavits filed by the candidates contesting the 17th Lok Sabha elections are publicly available at the Election Commission’s website.
IndiaSpend analysed and compared the self-sworn affidavits of 44 candidates who are sitting members of the 16th Lok Sabha and are recontesting in phase two, with their 2014 Lok Sabha election affidavits available at the Election Commission of India’s affidavit website and affidavit archive, to calculate the percent change in their declared assets. Our analysis shows that the 39 candidates whose assets increased saw a 67% increase on average, whereas the five candidates whose assets shrank saw an average decrease of 19% since 2014.
The total wealth of the 44 sitting MPs as declared in 2019 amounts to more than Rs 1,262 crore ($182 million), equivalent to the total cost of constructing 6,000 km of flexible rural roads under the Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana.
Top three MPs with highest increase in assets
Of 39 members of parliament whose assets increased between 2014-2019, 15 are from the Bharatiya Janata Party, six are from the Indian National Congress, four are from the AIADMK, three from the Shiv Sena, two each from the Communist Party of India (Marxist) and Rashtriya Janata Dal, one each from All India Trinamool Congress, All India United Democratic Front, Biju Janata Dal, Janata Dal (Secular), Janata Dal (United), Nationalist Congress Party and Pattali Makkal Katchi.
The MP who saw the highest percentage of increase in their assets is DK Suresh of the Congress, the MP for the Bangalore Rural constituency of Karnataka. In 2014, his assets were worth Rs 85 crore which increased to Rs 338 crore in 2019 – an increase of 295%. Suresh’s attendance in the Lok Sabha is 85%, he has participated in 91 debates against the national average of 67.1, and has asked 648 questions against the national average of 293, according to PRS Legislative Research data. He has five criminal cases pending against him, all of which are under sections of Karnataka Forest Rules 1969 and Karnataka Forest Act 1963. He is accused of quarrying and erecting electrical lines in a reserved forest area.
Prataprao Ganpatrao Jadhav of the Shiv Sena from the Buldhana constituency of Maharashtra saw a 223% growth in his assets. His assets in 2014 were Rs 3.6 crore, which increased to Rs 11.6 crore in 2019. He has had 70% attendance, participated in 51 debates and asked 492 questions. Jadhav has three pending criminal cases with seven serious charges under the Indian Penal Code, relating to false evidence, criminal breach of trust, and cheating and dishonestly inducing delivery of property.
Jual Oram of the BJP, the outgoing Union Minister for Tribal Affairs and MP for Sundargarh constituency in Odisha, had declared assets worth Rs 2.4 crore in 2014, which have undergone a 206% increase in 2019 to Rs 7.4 crore. Oram has two pending cases with charges related to unlawful assembly, wrongful restraint, and danger or obstruction in public way or line of navigation.
Hema Malini, a star campaigner of the BJP and the MP for the Mathura constituency in Uttar Pradesh, has seen a 45.6% increase in her assets since 2014, from Rs 178 crore then to Rs 259 crore in 2019.
MPs with biggest decrease in assets
Our analysis shows that the assets of five sitting MPs contesting in phase two have decreased over their 16th Lok Sabha term. The assets of Biren Singh Engti of the Congress, representing the Autonomous District constituency in Assam, decreased by 78%, from Rs 3 crore in 2014 to Rs 78 lakh in 2019.
P Venugopal of the AIADMK representing Tiruvallur in Tamil Nadu, saw a 20% decrease; Farooq Abdullah, J&K National Conference MP for Srinagar, J&K, had a 14% decrease; J Jayavardhan of the AIADMK from Chennai South, Tamil Nadu, had a 3% decrease; and BN Chandrappa of the Congress from Chitradurga, Karnataka, had a 0.8% decrease in assets between 2014 and 2019.
Candidates who are Crorepatis
Among the major parties, all candidates of the AIADMK, 96% (23 of 24) of the DMK, 88% (45 of 51) of the BJP, 87% (46 of 53) of the Congress and 26% (21 of 80) of the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) have declared assets worth more than Rs 1 crore.
The three richest candidates in the second phase are all from the Congress. Vasanthakumar H from the Kanyakumari constituency of Tamil Nadu has total assets worth more than Rs 417 crore; Uday Singh from the Purnia constituency of Bihar has total assets worth more than Rs 341 crore; and DK Suresh, who is contesting again from the Bangalore Rural constituency of Karnataka, has total assets worth more than Rs 338 crore.
The three richest candidates also have the highest liabilities. Vasanthakumar has liabilities of more than Rs 154 crore, Singh’s liabilities are more than Rs 71 crore and Suresh has liabilities of more than Rs 51 crore.
The top three candidates with the highest declared income during the past financial year are Vasanthakumar H of the Congress from the Kanyakumari constituency of Tamil Nadu, who is also the richest candidate; Manju A of the BJP from the Hassan constituency of Karnataka, and Arun Wankhade of the BSP from the Amravati constituency of Maharashtra.
Vasanthakumar has income of more than Rs 28 crore and has mentioned business as his source of income. Manju has income of more than Rs 12 crore and has mentioned self-employment as his source of income, while Wankhade whose income is more than Rs 4 crore has stated that his income is sourced from property business, consultancy and contractorship.
Sixteen candidates have declared no assets. After these, Shri Venkateshwara Maha Swamiji of Hindustan Janata Party from the Solapur constituency of Maharashtra has declared the least assets – worth Rs 9.
Rajesh P and Raja N, independent candidates from the Mayiladuthurai constituency of Tamil Nadu, have declared assets worth Rs 100 each.
Among the major parties, the highest proportion of candidates facing criminal charges are from DMK, 46% (11 of 24) of whose candidates face criminal charges. Of 53 Congress candidates, 43% (23) have declared criminal cases pending against them, compared with 31% (16 of 51) from the BJP and 20% (16 of 80) from the BSP. Among other parties, 36% (4 of 11) of the Shiv Sena’s candidates and 14% (3 of 22) of AIADMK candidates have declared criminal charges.
Of the 167 candidates facing serious criminal charges are 17 of the Congress’s 53 (32%), 10 of the BJP’s 51 (20%), 10 of the BSP’s 80 (13%), 7 of the DMK’s 24 (29%), 3 of the AIADMK’s 22 (14%) and 1 of the Shiv Sena’s 11 (9%).
Three candidates facing serious criminal charges have declared that they have been convicted in the past. Six have declared they are facing cases related to murder, 25 have declared cases related to attempt to murder, eight related to kidnapping, 10 related to crime against women and 15 related to hate speech, the Association for Democratic Reforms analysis shows.
Among the candidates who contested the first phase of the 17th Lok Sabha elections, 17% faced criminal charges, of which 12% faced serious criminal charges, IndiaSpend had reported on April 11, 2019.
Of 1,590 candidates, 697 (44%) have declared their educational qualification to be between 5th and 12th standard, while 756 (47%) candidates have a graduate degree or above, of which 29 candidates have a doctorate degree.
On the other hand, 35 (2.2%) candidates have declared they are just literate and 26 (1.6%) that they are illiterate.
A third (33%) or 525 of 1,590 candidates are in the 25-40 years age group, while more than half (51%) or 805 candidates are aged between 41 and 60 years, as per the affidavits analysed by Association for Democratic Reforms. Another 246 (15%) candidates are aged between 61-80 years, while seven candidates are aged above 80 years. Six candidates have not given their age and one said they were 24 years old, younger than the qualifying age to contest Lok Sabha elections.
Of the 1,590 candidates, 1,470 (92.45%) are males and 120 (8%) are females, compared with 1,177 (92.9%) males and 89 (7%) females among 1,266 candidates in the first phase. As in phase 1, candidates have professed to no other gender.
This article first appeared on IndiaSpend, a data-driven and public-interest journalism non-profit.