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Election Watch to keep tab on K'taka candidates

Vicky Nanjappa in Bengaluru | April 11, 2008 21:05 IST

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Karnataka Votes

Candidates with criminal background are not something new and very often come up at the time of elections.

Karnataka [Images] Election Watch 2008, comprising eminent personalities, will be set up and their role will come into force from April 20 onwards.

This non-profit organisation, set up by the Association for Democratic Reforms, will keep a tab on the financial and criminal background of candidates contesting the Karnataka polls.

Apart from this, the organisation will also keep an eye on electoral malpractice.

The Election Watch, which was first set up in Gujarat in the year 2002, is now present in 19 states and five Union territories in the country.

At the time of elections, the organisation assists the Election Commission to ensure that polls are held in a free and fair manner.

A member of the ADR told that Election Watch will provide information on the financial, educational and criminal background of candidates.

The Election Watch will make public the affidavits filed by the candidates when they file in their nominations.

The Election Watch in Karnataka will comprise 100 NGOs who would be involved in the entire process to ensure a free and fair poll.

Apart from this a comparative study would also be undertaken to see whether there has been any sort of improvement in the quality of candidates.

Statistics for Karnataka:

The affidavits filed by the candidates for the 2004 polls indicated that the Bharatiya Janata Party [Images] had the highest number of candidates with criminal charges.

The study found that 49 candidates from the BJP had 104 separate criminal charges which included, murder, rioting, dacoity and attempt to murder.

In the Janata Dal-Secular camp there were 29 candidates with a criminal background. In all there were 59 charges against them. The Congress was the cleanest compared to these two parties. The party had 24 candidates with 54 different criminal charges.

The study conducted by Election Watch in the year 2004 also showed that 65 per cent of the BJP candidates declared their assets as nil and also failed to declare their PAN number.

The JD-S had 64 per cent of such cases while in the Congress camp it was 49 per cent. It was also noted that only 21.3 per cent of the candidates (there were 1,086 candidates in all) had indicated their PAN numbers.

Thirty-three per cent had not given the value of their immovable assets while 29.5 per cent had preferred to not value their movable assets.

Places like Raichur, Kanakapura, Tumkur and Bidar had the most candidates with a criminal record at 15 per cent. In Bangalore north, Gulbarga and Bagalkot the percentage was lesser at 5 per cent.

This time around it is felt that the number of candidates with criminal background would be less thanks to the strict norms both the Election Commission and political parties are adhering to.

The Election Commission has indicated that it would be merciless on candidates with criminal background and also those who fail to declare their assets and conceal information.

Apart from this the candidates would also have to file an expense statement after every three days of campaigning.

Who would watch: The Karnataka Election Watch will comprise eminent personalities such as former chief justice M B Venkatachalaiah, Planning Commission Member L C Jain, former Karnataka chief secretary Satish Chandran among others.

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