Criminals, millionaires, dropouts – Bengal assembly has them all

Kolkata, May 26: From facing serious criminal charges to possessing millions of rupees worth of assets, school dropouts to tax evaders — the newly constituted West Bengal assembly has them all as legislators.

West Bengal Election Watch (WBEW), a civil society initiative, has come out with a detailed report on the legislators based on the affidavits filed by them with their nomination papers for the recently concluded assembly polls.

The report says that of the total 294 members of the legislative assembly (MLAs), 102 face criminal charges. At least 75 of them face serious charges like murder, kidnapping etc.

The Trinamool Congress has the most number of legislators with criminal charges – 69. The Congress has 17 while the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) has seven such lawmakers.

The list of legislators facing criminal charges also includes nine cabinet ministers.

The report states that as many as 47 lawmakers are ‘crorepatis’, Swapan Kanti Ghosh of the Trinamool Congress being the richest. He has assets of over Rs.12 crore.

The crorepati list also is dominated by the Trinamool with 37, followed by the Congress with seven. Interestingly. the CPI-M has no crorepati legislators.

Some of these multi-millionaire legislators have also not bothered to file their income tax returns. In all, there are as many as 97 lawmakers who have not filed their income tax returns — 47 did not file their PAN details.

On a brighter note, none of the MLAs is illiterate but 19 of them are school dropouts. At least 31 have passed secondary examination and 51 have passed higher secondary examination. While 75 are graduates, 45 are professional graduates and 71 hold post-graduate degrees.

Though all major parties strongly argue for equal participation of women candidates, in reality there are only 34 women legislators. It is noteworthy that of the 1,263 candidates who contested the polls only 134 were women.

This year 52 legislators have been re-elected. (IANS)