By Deepak Venkateswaran:
The votes have been cast and the results are out. Instead of passing judgements on the winning party, let’s go into flashback mode. I will give you a quick analysis of the candidate generics. This write-up is in light of a report by Rajasthan Election Watch (REW) and Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) who have analysed the self-sworn affidavits candidates from all the major political parties and outgoing Independent MLAs contesting in the Rajasthan State Assembly Elections. A total of 2087 candidates filed affidavits with the ECI, among whom REW and ADR have analysed 733 candidates.
The state of the Indian polity is such that the first aspect to be considered while discussing elections is the criminal background of the candidates. Credit goes to the AAP for being the first party to have stayed free from tainted candidates. Moving on to Rajasthan, the issue of criminalism among voters is what strikes us first:
- Out of the 733 candidates analysed, 111 candidates (15%) have declared criminal cases against them with 62 having serious cases including murder, attempt to murder and kidnapping. The lion’s share of these “privileged” candidates goes to the BJP(31) while the Congress follows a close second with 28. It’s surprising when in a state with a population of nearly 7 crores, the ruling parties could find only these tainted candidates to represent their constituency. One can only wonder why criminality is not shunned upon while considering the rulers of a country while every other post demands a clean track record. It is foolish to think that these candidates would suddenly turn over a new leaf if they were to get power.
The next criteria was the financial background of these candidates:
- Out of the 733 candidates analysed, 346 (47%) are crorepatis. The average asset of these 733 candidates was analysed at Rs.2.97 Crores, a clear increase from the previous assembly elections which showed 1.43 crores. The biggest contributors to this group were candidates with assets of 118.96, 87.7 and 65.5 crores in descending order. While one should not be prejudiced towards candidates just because their bank balance is high, the trends that have emerged from this analysis show a dangerous aspect wherein some vested interests may be contesting elections with ulterior motives which we as laymen may not be privy to.
The picture was not all bleak.
- In terms of education, the otherwise grim analysis showed that a total 364 (50%) candidates out of 733 analyzed are graduates or have higher degrees. It brings some relief that the people who are to hold the reins of power would atleast have a cogent idea of doing their business. Sometimes, just degrees are not the benchmarks to good performance. Those who haven’t seen beyond the walls of a school could always seek help from their educated counterparts.
- Another bright aspect of the survey was that the average age of the candidates was nearly around 35 years with a majority of the candidates between 25-50.
It would make a great difference to every party if they field honest and dedicated candidates, the AAP is a shining example for that. Of course, it would be difficult to satisfy every aspect but they could certainly try. Until then, every pre-election and post-election analysis would warrant such scrutiny.