Tripura polls see more women candidates, only six with cases

February 19th, 2008 - 7:19 pm ICT by admin  

By Rakesh Mohan Chaturvedi
New Delhi, Feb 19 (IANS) Tripura, the northeastern state going to polls this month, has set a bench-mark of sorts. Nearly 10 percent of candidates are women - far above the average for other states - and only six contestants have criminal cases pending against them. These and other interesting facts have come out in a survey conducted by 10 NGOs, including the Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) and Association for Research on People and Nature (ARPAN), that worked under the banner of the Tripura Election Watch (TEC).

A total of 313 candidates are in the fray for Feb 23 elections, in which 2.03 million people are eligible to vote. The Election Commission has set up 2,391 polling booths, all of which will be manned by the paramilitary forces.

Tripura is also set to be the first state to have cent percent photo electoral rolls.

Among the tainted candidates, Sudhir Ranjan Majumdar of the Congress has a case of forgery against him while Rabindra Debbarma of the Indigenous Nationalist Party of Tripura (INPT) is accused of rape and causing miscarriage without the woman’s consent.

The other four candidates are independents and are charged with heinous crimes, including murder.

About 10 percent of the candidates are women and the figure is higher than in other states where the average number of female candidates hovers around seven to eight percent, according to TEC.

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which at its National Council meeting in New Delhi in January passed a resolution to provide 33 percent reservation to women in its organizational structure, has fielded the highest number of female candidates at 12.24 percent.

Though it has not made any provision for women’s reservation in its lists of candidate for general and assembly elections, the BJP has fielded more women than the ruling Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) and the Congress.

However, only 16 candidates have mentioned their permanent account numbers (PAN), which is mandatory for all income-tax payers. This leaves out 297 candidates - a whooping 95 percent - without PAN cards.

There are 16 crorepatis - having assets worth over Rs.10 million each - among the candidates and all of them are from the Congress.

In terms of average assets declared by the candidates, the Congress is the leader (Rs.8.70 million), followed by the CPI-M (Rs.1.66 million), and the BJP (Rs.589,000).

Subal Bhowmik of the Congress is the richest candidate with approximately Rs.160 million worth of assets.

However, the Congress also has the highest number of candidates with liabilities exceeding Rs.1 million. While three of its candidates figure in this list, two are from the CPI-M.

Only 98 candidates or 31 percent are graduates. A little over 50 percent of both the Congress and CPI-M candidates are graduates while only 31 percent of the BJP candidates have a degree. One-third (102) of the candidates have not completed their schooling.

Most of the candidates appear to be seasoned politicians as 46 percent are in the age group of 46-59. While 39 percent are in the 25-45 age group, 35 candidates are above 60 but think age is not a deterrent to serve the state.

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