A recent analysis conducted by the Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) has claimed that an approximate 44 per cent of MLAs in State Assemblies across India have declared criminal cases against themselves.
The analysis, conducted by ADR and the National Election Watch (NEW), examined the self-sworn affidavits of current MLAs in state assemblies and union territories nationwide. The data was extracted from the affidavits filed by the MLAs prior to contesting their most recent elections.
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The analysis encompassed a total of 4,001 MLAs out of the 4,033 individuals serving across 28 State Assemblies and two Union Territories.
Serious criminal cases
Of the MLAs analysed, the ADR said 1,136 or about 28 per cent have declared serious criminal cases against themselves, including charges related to murder, attempt to murder, kidnapping, and crimes against women, among others.
In Kerala, 95 out of 135 MLAs, accounting for 70 per cent, have declared criminal cases against themselves. Similarly, in Bihar, 161 out of 242 MLAs (67 per cent), in Delhi, 44 out of 70 MLAs (63 per cent), in Maharashtra, 175 out of 284 MLAs (62 per cent), in Telangana, 72 out of 118 MLAs (61 per cent), and in Tamil Nadu, 134 out of 224 MLAs (60 per cent) have self-declared criminal cases in their affidavits.
Additionally, the ADR reported that 37 out of 70 MLAs (53 per cent) in Delhi, 122 out of 242 MLAs (50 per cent) in Bihar, 114 out of 284 MLAs (40 per cent) in Maharashtra, 31 out of 79 MLAs (39 per cent) in Jharkhand, 46 out of 118 MLAs (39 per cent) in Telangana, and 155 out of 403 MLAs (38 per cent) in Uttar Pradesh have declared serious criminal cases against themselves.
The analysis also unveiled disturbing statistics related to crimes against women. A total of 114 MLAs have declared cases pertaining to crimes against women, with 14 of them specifically declaring cases related to rape (IPC Section-376), as highlighted in the report.
Apart from criminal records, the analysis also examined the assets of the MLAs. The average assets per MLA from State Assemblies were found to be Rs.13.63 crore. However, the average assets of MLAs with declared criminal cases stood higher at Rs.16.36 crore, compared to Rs.11.45 crore for those with no criminal cases.
The ADR analysis further revealed the States with the highest and lowest average assets per MLA.
Karnataka topped the list with an average asset value of Rs.64.39 crore for its 223 MLAs, followed by Andhra Pradesh with Rs.28.24 crore for 174 MLAs, and Maharashtra with Rs.23.51 crore for 284 MLAs. In contrast, Tripura had the lowest average assets with Rs.1.54 crore for its 59 MLAs, followed by West Bengal with Rs.2.80 crore for 293 MLAs, and Kerala with Rs.3.15 crore for 135 MLAs.
Out of the 4,001 MLAs analysed, 88 (2 per cent) were found to be billionaires, possessing assets worth more than Rs.100 crore.
Karnataka had the highest number of billionaires among MLAs, with 32 out of 223 (14 per cent), followed by Arunachal Pradesh with 4 out of 59 (7 per cent), and Andhra Pradesh with 10 out of 174 (6 per cent). Maharashtra, Himachal Pradesh, Gujarat, and Madhya Pradesh also had MLAs with assets surpassing the Rs.100 crore mark.
BJP biggest beneficiary of electoral bonds
In another report released earlier on July 11, ADR said that more than half of all donations received by political parties between 2016-17 and 2021-22 were through electoral bonds. The BJP received more funds than all other national parties put together, the report said.
According to the ADR, donations worth around Rs.16,437 crore were received by the seven national parties and 24 regional parties in India between 2016-17 and 2021-22. Of this, Rs.9,188.35 crore—around 56 per cent—were received through electoral bonds.
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) declared donations worth Rs.10,122.03 crore between 2016-17 and 2021-22, followed by the Congress (Rs.1,547.43 crore) and the Trinamool Congress (Rs.823.30 crore), the report said. The total donations declared by the BJP is more than three times the total donations declared by all the other national parties, it said.
Donations worth Rs.4,614.53 crore, about 28 per cent of the total, were received from the corporate sector and Rs.2,634.74 crore (16.03 per cent) were received from other sources. More than 80 per cent of the donations, around Rs.13,190.68 crore, were received by the national parties, and Rs.3,246.95 crore (19.75 per cent) by regional parties, the ADR said.
For the national parties, there was a 743 per cent increase in donations from electoral bonds between 2017-18 and 2021-22, while corporate donations increased by 48 per cent. The highest donations were received in 2019-20, the year of general elections (Rs.4,863.50 crore), followed by Rs.4,041.48 crore in 2018-19 and Rs.3,826.56 crore in FY 2021-22.
The BJP, which got three times more donations than all other national parties put together, got over 52 per cent of it through electoral bonds. Around 32 per cent of the donations to the BJP came from corporate houses.
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The Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and Communist Party of India (CPI) received 100 per cent donations from “other” sources, which means donations less than Rs.20,000 for which political parties do not need to declare the details of the donor.
Among the regional parties, more than 89.81 per cent of the Biju Janata Dal’s (BJD) total donations came from electoral bonds worth Rs.622 crore, the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) declared the second highest donations from bonds of Rs.431.50 crore, followed by the Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS, now BRS) which declared Rs.383.65 crore and the YSR Congress (YSRCP) which declared Rs.330.44 crore.
The direct corporate donations declared by the seven national parties are more than five times the corporate donations declared by 31 regional parties during the six-year period. In the six-year period, direct corporate donations declared by the regional parties increased by around 152 per cent.
(with inputs from PTI. Graphics by Abhinav Chakraborty)