Bhopal: As Madhya Pradesh voters gear up to elect half a dozen parliamentarians on April 29, they have millionaires, those with criminal cases against them as well as illiterate candidates on offer.
The Association of Democratic Reforms (ADR), which has studied the details of 104 candidates in the state, has found that the poll arena is filled with crorepati contenders of whom the top three belong to the Congress.
While Chhindwara candidate and Chief Minister Kamal Nath’s son Nakul owns a fortune of Rs 660 crore, eminent lawyer and Rajya Sabha member Vivek Tankha, who is contesting from Jabalpur, has assets worth Rs 66 crore. Former Leader of Opposition Ajay Singh and Congress nominee from Sidhi has belongings worth Rs 37 crore.
BJP state president Rakesh Singh has assets worth over Rs four crore.
Tankha tops the chart in terms of annual income as his latest ITR has put his income at Rs 11 crore, though Nakul has reported an annual income of Rs 2 crore.
There are also some contenders who come from very humble backgrounds and one of them, Lallan Kumar from Sidhi, has belongings worth Rs 1,823 and is the poorest of them all.
Another candidate from Sidhi, Ram Sahay, has assets worth Rs 6,134, while Jabalpur candidate Dhanuk has assets valued at Rs 10,300. All of them are contesting as independents.
Of the 104 candidates analysed by the ADR, 14% have reported criminal cases, while 8% have admitted that there are cases of serious offences registered against them.
A total of 17% Congress candidates have declared criminal cases against them, while none of the BJP candidates in the fray in first phase has any criminal case lodged against them.
Among them, former MLA Kankar Munjare, who is contesting on a BSP ticket from Balaghat, has various criminal charges against him, including attempt to murder, wrongful confinement and rioting.
Congress leader Ajay Singh also has cases, including rioting and defamation against him. BJP state head Rakesh Singh too has several cases against him which mostly deal with rioting and unlawful assembly.
Among the analysed candidates, over 55 (53%) candidates have claimed that their educational qualification is between class 5th and 12th standards, while 41 candidates have claimed their educational qualification is graduation and above.
Besides, there are two candidates who are illiterate and another four of them can only mange to read and write.
In a welcome trend suggesting that political parties have offered tickets to young and middle-aged aspirants in the election, about 60% of the candidates are in the age group of 25 to 50 years.
Six seats— Shahdol, Sidhi, Jabalpur, Mandla, Balaghat and Chhindwara — will see election in the state on April 29.