A joint survey conducted by the West Bengal Election Watch and the Association for Democratic Reforms found that candidates with criminal records have a 28 per cent chance of winning elections, while those with no such legal obligation hold a 15 per cent chance of being triumphant.
The survey - 'Analysis of criminal and financial background details of candidates and MPs and MLAs since 2004 in West Bengal'- took into account 6,163 candidates, including 1,081 MPs and MLAs, who have contested parliamentary or assembly elections from West Bengal since 2004.
Based on the information submitted by the poll candidates prior to 2006, 2011 and 2016 Assembly elections and Lok Sabha polls held in 2004, 2014 and 2019, the two organisations carried out the survey and found out that out of 6,123 candidates, 1,121 have criminal charges against them, and 833 others have serious criminal cases against them.
Highlighting party-wise analysis, the survey revealed that 180 of 774 BJP candidates, who contested polls since 2004, have criminal cases. In the ruling TMC party, 276 out of 882 candidates haves criminal litigations against them and similarly 138 out of 393 Congress nominees, and 156 out of 716 CPI(M) candidates were found to have criminal cases filed against them.
The survey also stated that 10 per cent of 6,163 candidates are women. Of the 623 female candidates in Bengal since 2010, 72 have criminal cases, and 44 serious criminal charges. As for male nominees, 789 have serious cases against them. The study also found that the average assets of all candidates were Rs 1.16 crore. "Data analysis has revealed that money and muscle power have a huge bearing on the outcome of the election results," the report released on Tuesday stated.
Mamata Banerjee-led TMC had swept the 2016 Assembly polls by bagging 211 seats in the 294-member Assembly. On the other hand, the BJP won 18 out of 42 parliamentary seats in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. The saffron party has kickstarted a fierce campaign as it aims to unseat the TMC government. Both Union Home Minister Amit Shah and BJP president JP Nadda exuded confidence in the party winning more than 200 seats in the Assembly polls. The Congress-Left-ISF alliance is also in the poll fray while AIMIM too has announced its intention to make its political debut in the state.
Announcing the dates of the Assembly polls on February 26, Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora mentioned that 18.68 crore persons will decide the fate of 824 seats in the aforesaid 4 States and one Union Territory at 2.7 lakh polling stations. In West Bengal, 294 seats are up for grabs and people will be able to cast their votes at 1,01,916 polling stations. As per the phases, the polling in the state will be conducted on March 27, April 1, April 6, April 10, April 17, April 22, April 26 and April 29. The counting of votes shall take place on May 2.