Bihar's Muzaffarpur constituency will go to polls with the dubious distinction of having the maximum number of candidates with criminal charges against them, fighting to enter the 15th Lok Sabha.
As many as 10 candidates out of the total 24 in the constituency that goes to polls in the second phase of the election on April 23 have criminal cases pending against them.
Four such candidates have been charged with serious crimes like murder or attempt to murder, says a report by the independent body Association of Democratic Rights and the National Election Watch.
Former Defence Minister George Fernandes, who is the sitting Member of Parliament from the constituency, is contesting as an independent candidate this time after his party Janata Dal - United refused to give him a ticket, citing his poor health. The veteran leader has no cases pending against him.
Of the total 141 constituencies where ballots will be cast in the second round, as many as 45 have three or more candidates with criminal cases pending against them. Out of the total 46, Bihar accounts for 11 of these constituencies while Maharashtra and Jharkhand account for 10 and seven respectively. Uttar Pradesh has five constituencies with three or more candidates with criminal backgrounds.
While Muzaffarpur tops the list, Beed in Maharashtra, Valmiki Nagar in Bihar and Dhanbad and Godda in Jharkhand come second with seven candidates each with criminal charges in the electoral fray, says the ADR report prepared from the analysis of affidavits filed by the candidates.
While the Congress has fielded 40 candidates with criminal charges against them, the Bahujan Samaj Party and the Bharatiya Janata Party have nominated 31 and 27 such candidates respectively.
However, in terms of percentage of such candidates to total nominees fielded by them, the Loktantrik Samata Dal, the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha and the Jharkhand Vikas Morcha outdo the Congress, according to the data compiled by ADR, based on affidavits submitted by contestants.
Four of the six candidates or 66.67 per cent fielded by LTSD have pending criminal cases against them, followed by JMM with seven of the 13 candidates or 53.85 per cent and JVM with five of the eight, or 62.50 per cent.