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Nearly quarter of Mumbai and Thane candidates ‘did not complete Class X’

These findings are part of an analysis of the election affidavits of all 139 candidates contesting in the seven constituencies, conducted by non-partisan civil society group Mumbai Votes through their Informed Voter Project.

BJP, Sena, Cong & NCP: 38% of candidates hereditary politicians In addition to the analysis of criminal antecedents and educational qualification, the Informed Voter Project has also conducted a qualitative analysis of the four big parties’ manifestos on parameters set by Delhi-based NGO Community. (Express photo by Prashant Nadkar)

Thirty one candidates among 139 in the fray for six Parliamentary constituencies in Mumbai and one in Thane did not complete their Class X. That is almost one quarter of those in the fray in these seven constituencies.

While 12 are Independent candidates, among the big four parties, the BJP has fielded one such candidate, Gopal Shetty, the incumbent in Mumbai North.

Shetty, Congress candidate in Mumbai North West Sanjay Nirupam, Shiv Sena candidate in Thane Rajan Vichare and NCP candidate in Thane Anand Paranjpe also count among those with serious criminal cases against them, including Section 506 of the Indian Penal Code, pertaining to criminal intimidation.

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These findings are part of an analysis of the election affidavits of all 139 candidates contesting in the seven constituencies, conducted by non-partisan civil society group Mumbai Votes through their Informed Voter Project.

“Our theory of change for enabling informed voting in India has been applied across five elections in Mumbai — the 2009 and 2014 Lok Sabha and Vidhan Sabha elections, and the elections to the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation in 2012,” said Vivek Gilani of Mumbai Votes. “The strategy is to conduct rigorous and objective candidate profile research and analysis to plug information lacunae.”

He said their digital outreach work focuses on ‘swing voters’ in every constituency who seek rigorous and reliable information about candidates.

According to their analysis, among the 31 candidates without a matriculation certificate, 12 are Independents, three are from the Rashtriya Ulama Council and two from the Prakash Ambedkar-backed Vanchit Bahujan Aghadi. The constituencies with the maximum number of candidates without a Class 10 pass certificate are Thane and Mumbai North, with six candidates each.

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The Informed Voter Project has also used a ‘Red Flags’ system to rate candidates based on their criminal records, using a system of assigning a specific number of red flags for specific charges. For example, while charges such as cheating and perjury attract one red flag under the Mumbai Votes system, violent crimes attract two red flags, and kidnapping, dacoity, extortion attract four red flags. Murder, attempt to murder, culpable homicide, abetment to suicide attract five red flags.

Under this system, the analysis found candidates of the BJP and the Shiv Sena to have attracted 68 and 56 red flags. The NCP’s attracted 30 red flags, while the Congress was assigned 21 red flags.

The candidate with the maximum red flags based on crime records stated in his election affidavit is Rajesh Bhavsar in Mumbai North Central with 63 red flags, contesting as a candidate of the Bharatiya Manavadhikaar Federal Party, followed by Shetty with 43  red flags and Vichare with 41 red flags.

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Among other major parties, Paranjpe in Thane has 22 red flags and Nirupam has 21. BJP candidate in Mumbai North East Manoj Kotak has 19, Shiv Sena’s Mumbai South incumbent MP Arvind Sawant has 15, NCP candidate in Mumbai North East Sanjay Dina Patil has eight and BJP candidate in Mumbai North Central Poonam Mahajan has one red flag.

“We decided to look at candidates’ pending court cases, educational qualification, profession, assets, and most importantly, their agenda, if elected. Analysis of these factors looks beyond names and political affiliations, as is traditional practice, and we believe, through open access to information voters can assess competence of a candidate and hold it accountable, if elected,” Gilani said.

In addition to the analysis of criminal antecedents and educational qualification, the Informed Voter Project has also conducted a qualitative analysis of the four big parties’ manifestos on parameters set by Delhi-based NGO Community.

This analysis looks at the specificity and quality of promises made on subjects ranging from climate change to urban infrastructure. The analysis was conducted by a team that was presented all the four manifestos without a clue on which belongs to which party.

First published on: 25-04-2019 at 03:06:06 am
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