Kolkata: At least 23 crorepatis (millionaires) and 58 with declared criminal cases are among the 296 candidates in the fray in the two-stage first phase of the West Bengal assembly polls.
According to West Bengal Election Watch (WBEW), in the first stage of the first phase (1A), only three of the 133 candidates in the fray possess properties in excess of Rs.1 crore.
However, at least 21 candidates -- comprising 16 percent of the total candidates -- have declared criminal cases including murder, attempt to murder and rape.
Phase 1A involving 18 constituencies spread across the Left Wing Extremism (LWE) affected districts of West Midnapore, Purulia and Bankura goes to the polls on April 4.
The BJP has three candidates with pending criminal cases, the most number for any political party. Two candidates each from the Congress and the Trinamool Congress have pending criminal cases against them.
Salboni and Purulia have been identified as "Red Alert" constituencies.
The WBEW gives such an appelation to a constituency when there are three or more candidates with declared criminal cases.
In Phase 1B, 37 of 163 contesting candidates have criminal antecedents. Twenty of those in the fray have assets in excess of Rs.1 crore.
Phase 1B covering 31 constituencies spread across districts of West Midnapore, Bankura and Burdwan goes to the polls on April 11 and has 163 candidates in the fray.
The BJP with 12 has the most number of candidates with criminal cases followed by the Trinamool with 10 and the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) with seven.
On the financial front, Trinamool's Pradip Mazumder contesting from Durgapur East has assets worth over Rs.12 crore -- the highest, followed by Bengali actor and Trinamool candidate Soham Chakaraborty with assets in excess of Rs.2 crore.
At the other end are SUCI's Tanushree Dalai contesting from Chandrakona (West Midnapore), BSP's Lalmohan Malla from Bankura and Sadhan Chattaraj from Onda (Bankura), with assets of nearly Rs.500.
"The entire first phase has 58 candidates with criminal cases against them. This comes to 20 percent of the total number of contestants.
"Forty nine of them have serious cases including murder, rape and dacoity. Ignoring our pleas, almost all the parties have given tickets to candidates with criminal charges," said WBEW state coordinator Biplab Halim.