The fifth phase of the Lok Sabha elections is the smallest phase this election, with 51 seats going to the polls, but it is expected to see some prominent battles seeing a direct face-off between the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Indian National Congress (Congress).
It will also see the Samajwadi Party stand out in terms of fielding candidates with assets more than ₹ 1 crore and those with self declared criminal cases, respectively.
Around 78% of the SP candidates have declared serious criminal cases against them, while the average assets for the SP candidates this phase is at ₹ 31 crore - the highest among all the other parties in Phase 5.
BOOM utilised the report by Association for Democratic Reforms on the self-sworn affidavits by 668 out of 674 candidates, to gain insights into their demographics.
As compared to Phase 4, Phase 5 will also see a higher percentage of candidates having a graduate degree or a higher level of education, at 52%.
The number of self declared convicts is at 6, which denotes a lower number than other phases, but can be attributed to this phase fielding the lowest number of candidates.
20 of the 51 constituencies going to polls are red alert constituencies - they have 3 or more candidates with criminal cases against them.
Meanwhile, the 78% of all the candidates fielded by the Samajwadi Party have declared criminal cases against themselves. Incidentally, all these cases fall under 'serious criminal charges'.
The BJP comes a distant second. While 46% of their candidates have criminal charges against them, 40% of their candidates have serious criminal charges against them.
The Congress, the BSP and the collective cohort of independent candidates come in at the next three places respectively.
ADR defines a serious criminal case as:
- Punishments of 5 years or more or if it is non-bailable
- Electoral offences (such as bribery)
- Assault, murder, kidnap or rape
- Offences mentioned under the Representation of People’s Act, 1951
- Offences of corruption, under the Prevention of Corruption Act
How Money Talks In Phase 5
As per the classifications done by ADR, which divides the asset groups of contestants into five categories, 61% of contestants fall into the lower two rungs – with declared assets of less than ₹50 lakhs. In the previous two phases, it was 58% and 65%respectively.
The average asset of a candidate of the SP is the highest in this phase, standing at ₹31 crores. The Congress comes a close second at ₹29 crores.
A surprise entry on this list is the Pragatishil Samajwadi Party (Lohia) - founded by Shivpal Singh Yadav in 2018. Yadav is the younger brother of Mulayam Singh Yadav. A candidate from this party on average has assets of ₹12 crores.
Parties like the TMC, the RJD, the BSP and the CPI have average assets ranging from ₹2 crores to ₹4 crores per candidate.
Poonam Sinha, wife of Shatrughan Sinha, is the richest candidate of this phase. Standing on an SP ticket from Lucknow, she also reaffirms SP's standing financially this phase. She is up against Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh.
Vijay Kumar Mishra of the Pragitishil Samajwadi Party (Lohia) comes second, followed by Jayant Sinha of the BJP.
Poonam Sinha is the most prominent celebrity on the list. Rahul Gandhi is number 15 by his declared assets, ahead of his mother Sonia Gandhi who is at 27.
Rahul's competitor from Amethi, Smriti Irani is at number 30, with Rajnath Singh at 60.
The Important Battles Of Phase 5
Phase 5, although the smallest, will see some fierce battles take place.
Amethi in Uttar Pradesh has been a traditional bastion of the Congress and will see a repeat of the 2014 contest - between Congress President Rahul Gandhi and Union Minister of Textiles Smriti Irani.
In 2014, Rahul Gandhi won against Irani with a margin of 1,07,903 votes. In Amethi, the opposition also stands united, as the SP-BSP combined has endorsed Rahul Gandhi's candidature.
Rae Bareli is another fortress of the Congress, which will see incumbent MP and chairperson of the UPA - Sonia Gandhi - contest to retain her seat. She will be up against the BJP's Dinesh Pratap Singh.
Rae Bareilly too will see a united opposition contesting against the BJP.
Lucknow's current MP and Union Minister of Home Affairs, Rajnath Singh, will be up against Poonam Sinha who will contest on an SP ticket. Congress too is fielding spiritual leader Pramod Krishmam from here.
Sinha is the wife of Congress and ex-BJP leader Shatrughan Sinha, who will be contesting from Patna Sahib.
Rajnath Singh won this constituency by 2,72,749 votes.
Ballot Buster - BOOM's video coverage of Phase 5 - can be seen here.