Arunachal Pradesh assembly elections: 29 candidates have criminal cases against them, 131 are crorepatis

On the same day as the first phase of the upcoming 2019 Lok Sabha elections–Wednesday, April 11–people in Arunachal Pradesh will also vote for their Legislative Assembly. The Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) has recently released a report that analyses key details of candidates contesting the state polls, including financial and criminal background, education, and gender. 

Arunachal Election

Per the report, 106 of the total 184 candidates analysed (using self-sworn affidavits) are from national parties, 66 are from state parties, and 11 are independent candidates. 

Criminal background of candidates 
29 candidates, or 16% of the total number that were analysed, have “declared criminal cases against” them. In comparison, in the 2014 assembly elections in the state, 9 out of the 148 candidates analysed, or 6%, had declared criminal cases against them. 26 candidates have “declared serious criminal cases against” them, compared to seven candidates in 2014.

The report notes that the criteria for ‘serious criminal cases’ includes offences for which the maximum punishment is five years or more, non-bailable offences, electoral offences, offences that are related to assault, kidnapping, murder and rape, offences mentioned in the Representation of the People Act (section 8), offences under the Prevention of Corruption Act, and crimes against women.

When considering political parties, the report states that seven of the 60 candidates from the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), or 12%, have declared criminal cases against them in affidavits. This figure is nine out of 46 candidates, or 20% for the Indian National Congress (INC), eight of 30 candidates from the National People’s Party (NPP), two of 15 candidates from the Janata Dal (United) party (JD(U)), and one of 12 candidates from the Janata Dal (Secular) party (JD(S)). Four BJP candidates, nine Congress candidates, and eight NPP candidates have declared serious criminal cases.

Financial background of candidates
The report has found that 67 candidates, or 36% of the total number analysed have assets valued at Rs. 5 crore or higher, 44 candidates (24%) have assets worth between Rs. 2 crores and Rs. 5 crores, and 35 candidates (19%) have assets worth between Rs. 50 lakh and Rs. 2 crores. This means that nearly 80% of all candidates have assets valued at Rs. 50 lakh, or higher. Of the three candidates with the highest valued assets, two are from the BJP, while one is from the Congress.

Of the three candidates with the lowest valued assets, two are from the JD(S), and one is from the Congress. One candidate, Dayum Para of the Congress, contesting from the Tali constituency, has declared zero assets.

131 of the 184 candidates analysed are crorepatis, or 71%, per the report. In comparison, in the 2014 Arunachal Pradesh assembly elections, 88 of 148 candidates analysed, or 60%, were crorepatis. 54 of 60 BJP candidates (or 90%) are crorepatis, 30 of 46 Congress candidates (or 65%) are crorepatis, and 21 of 30 NPP candidates (70%) are crorepatis. This figure is is 11 of 15 candidates (or73% for JD(U), seven of 12 candidates (or 58%) for the JD(S), and five of 11 independent candidates (or 46%).

The average assets per candidate amount to Rs. 9.86 crores. In contrast, this figure was Rs. 5.05 crores for the 148 candidates analysed for the 2014 legislative assembly elections. This figure is Rs. 13.13 crores for the 60 BJP candidates, Rs. 11. 95 crores for the 46 Congress candidates, Rs. 6.43 crores for the 30 NPP candidates, Rs. 7.79 crores for the 15 JD(U) candidates, and Rs. 4.30 crores for the 12 JD(S) candidates.

Of the three candidates with the highest liabilities, one is from the Congress, one is from the JD(U), and one is from the BJP. Nabam Tuki, of the Congress, who was formerly Arunachal Pradesh’s chief minister is contesting from the Sagalee constituency; he has the highest liabilities, amounting to more than Rs. 20 crores. His assets are valued at more than Rs. 100 crores.

Candidates gender, age, and educational background
68 of all candidates, or 37% have “declared their educational qualification to be between 5th and 12th,” the report states, adding that 106 candidates (or 58%) have declared their educational qualification as “graduate or above”. Two candidates are literate, while five candidates are not literate. 

35 candidates, or 19%, “have declared their age to be between 25 to 40 years,” the report notes, adding that 130 candidates (or 71%) have declared their age to between 41 and 60 years. 19 candidates, or 10% have said that they are aged between 61 and 80 years.

Just 11 candidates are female, amounting to 6%. In 2014, of the 148 candidates analysed, five, or 3% were women.

The report says that the number of MLAs who are re-contesting the 2019 election is 50, noting that ADR has analysed 47 of these, with three candidates not being analysed due to want of adequately scanned affidavits. Per the report, the average assets of candidates who are re-contesting has increased by Rs. 7.96 crores, or 76%.

Suspicious money in the Northeast
Chief Minister Pema Khandu is the wealthiest candidate; he is seeking re-election from the Mukta assembly seat in the state for his third consecutive term. In 2016, Khandu left the Congress and joined the BJP. On Wednesday, April 3, the Congress issued a press release stating that a midnight raid conducted on the convoy of Khandu, Deputy Chief Minister Chowna Mein, and BJP state president Tapir Gao, “found Rs 1.8 crore in stacks of hard cash that exposes the brazen corruption and poll violation  as Prime Minister Narendra Modi holds a rally in Pasighat, Arunachal Pradesh at 10:00 am today,” the Indian Express reported, noting that Gao said the money was recovered from BJP MLA candidate Dangi Perme, and that it did not belong to the BJP. Khandu, too, denied the money belonged to the BJP, instead alleging that the Congress engages in ‘cash-for-votes’.

This coincided with an announcement from the Directorate of Income Tax, a large amount of suspicious money was deposited in banks in the Northeast, days before the Lok Sabha elections, the Deccan Herald reported. In a statement, Arun Bhowmick, Deputy Director of Income Tax (Investigation) said, “Our independent intelligence gathering initiative has thrown up an alarming fact that huge amounts of suspicious cash have been deposited in banks, including in rural and co-operative banks in the weeks preceding the announcement of the election dates. Similarly, huge amounts of suspicious cash have also been withdrawn. These transactions so far have gone below the radar of the routine process of election expenditure monitoring. Ground level intelligence indicates it is highly possible that substantial part of the cash flow is being misused for vitiating free and fair elections”. Bhowmick said that the Election Commission of India (ECI) has been alerted to the initial findings.

The Deccan Herald noted that the directorate monitors issues regarding the use of money for elections in Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, and Tripura, which collectively have 24 Lok Sabha seats. It has launched inquires into around 200 instances of similar bank transactions higher than Rs. 10 lakh. Bhowmick’s statement noted, “The modus operandi seems to be that cash is deposited in banks and may move undetected through banking channels or may stay dormant till required. The cash is withdrawn at the appropriate time and evaporates into the system. The initial investigation into data of 10-days transaction has raised apprehension that the banks are being possibly used as safe conduit to hide and move suspicious cash”.

The complete report may be read below: 




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