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Half of Telangana MLAs face serious criminal cases

Over 37% of the MLAs elected in the five state elections held last month face at least one criminal case against them, and nearly 45% have assets worth 5 crore or more, a Mint analysis of data compiled by the Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) showed. Both shares have seen an increase since the previous election in these states.

Among the five states, Telangana had the highest prevalence of legislators facing criminal cases, with 82 out of 119 having this dubious distinction, up from 73 in 2018. Among them, 59 (or 50%) faced “serious” cases (those involving non-bailable charges, or those punishable with five years or more, or offences such as murder, attempt to murder, rape, etc). The state is one of just four where the share of MLAs facing serious criminal cases exceeds the 40% mark, the others being Delhi (53%), Bihar (51%) and Jharkhand (42%). As many as 52 of the 64 MLAs of the winning party, Congress, have cases against them.

The data is based on declarations made by candidates in their affidavits while filing their nominations ahead of the polls. Facing a criminal case does not imply criminality, as it’s common to face bogus cases filed by political rivals.

A similar Plain Facts analysis in 2022, covering over 122,000 candidates from the period 2008–2022 had shown that over 26% of the candidates of the top parties in state-level polls had declared criminal cases against them, and the share had risen to nearly one-in-three since 2018. Candidates facing criminal charges were more successful in winning since they likely belong to larger parties that are more prone to vendetta-related bogus cases.

Super-rich MLAs

As many as 87% of the MLAs elected across the five states are crorepatis, a sharp increase from 82% in 2018. The share of those worth 5 crore or more increased from 33% to 45%.

Again, the prevalence of super-rich MLAs was the highest in Telangana, with 68% being worth 5 crore or more, up from 46%. All but five were crorepatis. The median assets of a Telangana MLA increased from 6 crore to 11 crore.

Our analysis last year had shown that the share of crorepati election candidates had doubled in the past decade and a half. While Congress candidates tended to be richer consistently, those of the BJP were seen catching up rapidly. Here, too, richer candidates were more likely to emerge victorious.

Congress leader Gaddam Vivekanand from Telangana’s Chennur constituency was the richest winner across the five states ( 606 crore), followed by another Congress leader, Komatireddy Raj Gopal Reddy, from Munugode constituency ( 458 crore).

Eleven MLAs across the five assemblies had assets worth more than 100 crore—seven in Telangana, three in Madhya Pradesh and one in Rajasthan.

Learned lawmakers

While there is an overall surge in the share of MLAs holding at least a graduate degree across the five states, Chhattisgarh stands as the exception, experiencing a decline from 68% in 2018 to 60% in 2023. Mizoram and Madhya Pradesh emerged as the leaders in terms of MLAs with higher education, boasting 80% and 70%, respectively, with a minimum of a graduate degree.

The 2022 Plain Facts analysis had shown an improvement in the share of election candidates who were graduates over the period 2008–2022.

Telangana, however, presents a contrasting scenario, with nearly a third of its MLAs not going beyond high-school education. Rajasthan follows suit, with almost 10% of its MLAs reporting educational qualifications below Class 10.

A noteworthy trend is the rise of MLAs with doctoral degrees. Rajasthan leads the pack with nine such elected representatives, yet Mizoram claims the highest share, with 5% of its MLAs (two out of 40) holding a doctorate.

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