Uttar Pradesh elections' a pageantry of dough and the dodgy

The data about the number of rich men who will faceoff in the February 19 runoffs underscores the might of money in Indian politics. Photograph:( AFP )

PTI New Delhi, Delhi, India Feb 14, 2017, 01.26 PM (IST)

As certain parts of India's most populous and largest state Uttar Pradesh goes to polls on February 19, two poll watchers said 110 out of 813 contestants have criminal cases among them.

Of them, 82 candidates have serious criminal records, including cases related to murder, attempt to murder, kidnapping and crimes against women.

There are in total 826 candidates who will battle out in the third phase of the February 19 runoff. But Uttar Pradesh Election Watch and the Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) analysed the self-sworn affidavit of 813 out of 826 candidates from 105 political parties.

The parties that have fielded the maximum number of candidates with criminal charges against them are Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Bharatiya Janata Party and Dalit leader Mayawati's Bahujan Samaj Party with 21 apiece.

The state's ruling Samajwadi Party has 13 such dodgy candidates, according to the report.

Big money continues to remain a mainstay in Indian politics, with the report suggesting that of the 813 candidates, nearly in one in three -- 250 to be precise -- have wealth above Rs 1 crore (Rs 100,00,000 and roughly 150,000 in US dollars).

The average asset per candidate contesting in the third phase of UP elections is Rs 1.61 crore (roughly $241,000), the report mentioned.

On educational qualification of candidates, it said that 320 have declared their education to be between standard 5 and 12, while 418 have declared themselves as a graduate or above. Ten candidates are illiterates.

If Uttar Pradesh -- a state in North India -- was a country, it would be the largest elections conducted across the world in 2017. The state is home to 204.2 million people and is nearly twice the size of England.

The state has been in the middle of a long, heated election campaign charaterised by its divisive tone.

Polling in the state started on February 11 and will be conducted on seven different dates until March 8. The election result will be announced on March 11. 

(WION with inputs from PTI)