Nearly one-third of the candidates contesting in the first phase of the Bihar assembly elections have criminal records, with mainstream parties contributing the most to these figures, Association of Democratic Reforms (ADR), the organisation that reveals an audit report on "criminal candidates" during and after polls revealed.
Of 1,064 candidates contesting Phase 1 of Bihar Assembly elections 2020, 328 (31%) have criminal cases registered against them.
The ADR report stated that 244 or 23% of candidates are with 'serious criminal cases'.
Three candidates have declared rape cases against themselves, while 26 have declared cases related to crimes against women. At least 83 candidates have murder and attempt to murder cases against them.
Recently, the Election Commission had asked political parties to compulsorily publish details of candidates with pending criminal cases on party websites and social media platforms, along with reasons for their selection. Following the Supreme Court's order in February early this year, the EC had asked political parties to explain why they chose candidates with a criminal history to contest elections.
However, many parties have tried to bypass this by fielding wives or relatives of those with a criminal history.
"We are still tabulating the affidavits of candidates who have filed for the first phase. We will be coming out with a report. But roughly 30 per cent of the candidates in the first phase have criminal records," Rajiv Kumar, the Bihar representative of the ADR said.
Bihar's additional chief electoral officer Sanjay Singh said that his office was unaware whether the political parties had explained to the EC on fielding tainted candidates.
"The political parties were supposed to send their answers directly to the EC. Our office is not aware if they have set their replies," he said.
In the first phase of polls, the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) has fielded the highest number of candidates who have declared criminal cases against themselves, followed by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). The Lok Janshakti Party (LJP), Congress, Janata Dal United (JDU) and Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) are at the third, fourth, fifth and sixth spot respectively.
The Lalu Prasad Yadav-founded Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) has given maximum space to 'tainted candidates' or their relatives or wives. The party has fielded Anant Singh from the Mokama assembly seat who has around 38 criminal cases against him including murder, kidnapping and attempt to murder.
The RJD has fielded another history-sheeter Reet Lal Yadav, an Independent MLC, from the Danapur assembly seat. A notorious gangster, Yadav was recently released from jail and was accused of extortion and attempt to murder, among others serious charges.
"These candidates are immensely popular in their constituency and work for the welfare of the people. It is up to the voters to decide on the issue," RJD spokesperson Mritunjay Tiwari told ThePrint, defending its decision.
The list is led by Manju Verma, wife of Janata Dal United (JD-U) leader Chadrashekhar Verma whose name appeared in the Muzaffarpur child care home sex scandal involving sexual abuse of 34 girls.
Verma, who served as the social welfare minister, was put behind bars in connection with the scandal.
She has been fielded from Cheria-Bariyarpur seat in Begusarai district.