Re-contesting MLAs see significant increase in average assets in 2019 Odisha assembly polls

Odisha’s assembly elections came to a close on Monday, April 29, when the fourth and final phase took place, in tandem with the ongoing Lok Sabha elections. The Association of Democratic Reforms (ADR) and Odisha Election Watch scrutinised 1121 of the 1137 candidates who were running, based on their self-sworn affidavits, to find data about the candidates’ criminal, financial, and educational background, among other details.
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SabrangIndia had previously reported on ADR’s report for phase II of the elections, which found, among other things, that Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik was the wealthiest candidate in that phase. Notably, this report found that the MLAs who won the 2014 elections and re-contested the 2019 polls saw significant increase in their average assets.
Criminal background of candidates 
The latest report analysed candidates who contested in all four phases, and found that 30% of the candidates analysed, or 332 candidates, had criminal cases against them. 23% of candidates analysed, or 257 candidates, had ‘serious criminal cases’ against them. The criteria for a serious criminal case includes: offences for which the minimum punishment is five years or more, non-bailable offences, offences related to abduction, murder, assault and rape, offences mentioned in the Representation of the People Act and the Prevention of Corruption Act, and crimes against women.
In 2009 and 2014, the proportion of candidates with criminal cases against them was 23%, making the lattes figure a significant jump from previous election cycles. In terms of the political parties, of the candidates analysed, 40% of candidates from Biju Janata Dal (BJD), 59% of candidates from the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), 46% of candidates from the Indian National Congress (INC), 11% of candidates from the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), and 23% of independent candidates had criminal cases against them. Overall, 59 of Odisha’s 147 constituencies were termed “red alert constituencies,” with more than three candidates with criminal cases against them, per the report. In 2014, 56 constituencies were “red alert constituencies”.
Notably, seven candidates had declared convicted cases against them, and nine candidates had declared cases related to murder (Section 302 of the IPC) against them. 63 candidates had declared cases of attempt to murder (Section 307 of the IPC), and 49 candidates had declared cases related to crimes against women. Of these, two candidates had declared cases related to rape (Section 376 of the IPC).
Financial background of candidates
Of the candidates analysed, 6% were worth Rs. 5 crores or higher, and 10% were worth between Rs. 2 crores and Rs. 5 crores. 22% were worth between Rs. 50 lakhs and Rs. 2 crores. The majority of candidates were worth Rs. 50 lakhs, or less, with 25% of the candidates worth between Rs. 10 lakhs and Rs. 50 lakhs, and 37% of candidates worth less than Rs. 10 lakhs.
Of the 1121 candidates analysed, 27%, or 304 candidates were crorepatis. In comparison, of the 1420 candidates analysed for the 2014 Odisha assembly elections, 244 candidates, or 17%, were crorepatis. Meanwhile, of the 1261 candidates analysed for the 2009 assembly elections, only 94 candidates, or 7% were crorepatis.
The BJD had the highest number of crorepati candidates, with 97 of the 146 analysed. The BJP came in second with 75 of 145 candidates, and the Congress came in third, with 73 of 139 candidates. The average assets per candidate for the 2019 assembly elections amounted to Rs. 169 crores. This figure was Rs. 91.14 lakhs for the 2014 assembly elections, and Rs. 50.88 lakhs for the 2009 state elections.
In terms of the political parties, the BJD’s average assets per candidate, at Rs. 4.59 crores. This figure was Rs. 2.78 crores for the BJP, Rs. 3.85 crores for the Congress, Rs. 27.75 lakhs for the BSP, and Rs. 68.75 lakhs for the independent candidates. Although Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik was the wealthiest candidate in phase II, overall, he came in second to Bobby Mohanty of the Congress, who contested from the Baramba constituency in the Cuttack district, and had total assets worth more than Rs. 106 crores. Joginath Sahoo of the Rashtriya Independent Morcha (RIM) was the candidate with the lowest total assets, amounting to Rs. 377. Six candidates declared that their total assets were zero.

89 of the MLAs re-contested this year’s assembly elections. Per ADR’s analysis, the average assets of these MLAs in 2014 were Rs. 2.10 crores. Notably, this figure has significantly increased over the last five years, with the average assets of these MLAs in 2019 amounting to Rs. 5.02 crores. The average growth in this figure is Rs. 2.91 crores, or 139%.
In terms of the political parties, the average assets for BJD MLAs were around Rs. 2.38 crores in 2014, and grew to around Rs. 5.05 crores in 2019, a 112.5% increase. For Congress MLAs, average assets were around Rs. 1.63 crores in 2014, and around Rs. 5.82 crores in 2019, making the increase nearly 256%. For BJP MLAs, average assets in 2014 were around Rs. 1.34 crores, and jumped to Rs. 5.44 crores in 2019, with an increase of 300.38%. For the sole BSP MLA who re-contested, average assets were nearly Rs. 73 lakhs in 2014, and almost Rs. 4 crores in 2019, making the increase more than 440%.
Of the 1121 candidates analysed, ADR found that just 112, or 10%, were women. While 117 women contested the 2014 assembly elections, the proportion of women candidates was lower then, at 8%. The highest number of female candidates were independent candidates–29. However, these were just 10% of the total number of independent candidates–298. The BJD came in second, having fielded 19 women candidates (13%), while the Congress fielded 13 (9%), the BJP fielded 12 (8%), and the BSP fielded 10 female candidates (9%).
The results for the 2019 Odisha assembly elections will be announced alongside the results of the Lok Sabha elections, on May 23.
The complete report by ADR and Odisha Election Watch may be read here



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