Cases against 22 candidates: NGO

Tripura Election Watch members address the news conference in Agartala on Saturday. Picture by Pranab Shil

Agartala: Twenty-two of the 297 candidates contesting Tripura Assembly polls on February 18 have got criminal cases registered against them, an NGO said on Saturday.

Affidavits submitted by candidates while filing nomination papers revealed that 22 of them face criminal charges, Tripura Election Watch convener Biswendu Bhattacharya told reporters here.

Seventeen of the 22 candidates have got grave charges, including rioting, murder, attempt to murder, rape and criminal intimidation, running against them, Bhattacharya said.

The NGO claimed that 11 BJP candidates, four from the Congress, two from the ruling CPM, two from the Indigenous Peoples Front of Tripura (IPFT) and one from Trinamul Congress have declared criminal cases against them. Among them, grave charges are pending against nine BJP candidates, three Congress candidates, two IPFT candidates, one Trinamul Congress candidate and an Independent candidate.

Those accused with grave charges include BJP vice-president Subal Bhowmik, senior BJP leaders Ratan Lal Nath, Sudip Roy Barman and Dilip Sarkar, young BJP leader Sushanta Chowdhury, IPFT leaders Dhirendra Debbarma and Dhananjoy Tripura and Congress veteran Gopal Chandra Roy, among others.

Tripura has been under the rule of the CPM-led Left Front government for the past 35 years since 1978, except a gap of five years from 1988 to 1993. A coalition of the Congress and now-defunct Tripura Upajati Juba Samiti ruled the state during the period.

A report released by the NGO also claimed that 47 candidates contesting the polls have passed their eighth standard, 13 others have studied till fifth standard and one is “illiterate”.

Among the candidates in the poll fray this year, 35 are “crorepatis”. Affidavits filed during nomination paper submission revealed that Jishnu Devvarma, BJP candidate from Charilam constituency, has the highest declared assets of over Rs 11 crore. The candidate, however, doesn’t file income tax returns as he belongs to the indigenous community. Devvarma is the head of one of the families of the Tripura royalty.

Altogether 35 per cent of BJP candidates contesting in Tripura are “crorepatis”. The figure is seven per cent for the CPM, 15 per cent for the Congress, 11 per cent for IPFT and 13 per cent for the Indigenous Nationalist Party of Twipra among the major contestants.

According to the NGO, BJP candidates hold the highest average assets of Rs 1.35 crore while the CPM has an average asset holding of Rs 39.9 lakh. Among the top 10 candidates with highest assets, seven are from the BJP and three from the Congress.

Independents Sudarshan Majumder and Kanchai Mog contesting from Hrishyamukh and Manu seats respectively have shown zero assets.

Debraj Deb Telegraph India

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