To most voters, it may no longer be news when they hear of the criminal credentials of candidates lined up on the ballot. But Bihar has been particularly notorious in this regard. Given that, the trends in criminal records among the candidates of the October-November 2005 Bihar assembly elections are something to watch out for. Elections in the beleaguered state move into the final phase today. Polling began on 18 October with the Election Commission running a four phase schedule.

The Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) is doing just that. ADR is an Ahmedabad based non-political, non-partisan group of professors of the Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad (IIMA), the National Institute of Design (NID) and alumni of IIMA. For the last 3 years, ADR has been working on improving governance and strengthening democracy in India, focussing on electoral reforms. ADR's main objective is to explore and address issues related to electoral reforms, Right to Information, greater transparency among those in power, empowerment of the ordinary citizen and reform of the government and bureaucracy.

ADR has been working closely with Loksamvad – a network of NGOs based in Patna. The NGOs monitor and report the situation in the field. ADR’s Election Watches have repeatedly uncovered the dubious backgrounds of the candidates representing prominent political parties. For the Bihar Assembly Elections of February 2005, ADR reported that out of the 243 candidates who won, 42% had criminal charges against them and 2 even had rape charges.

For the current elections, a complete list of candidates, especially of those with criminal records, was published in full at the district level, says Professor Trilochan Sastry, one of the founding members of ADR and Professor at Indian Institute of Management, Bangalore. At least 23 candidates are women whose husbands all have criminal records – which may be a way to hide records of the candidates.


- Population: 82.88 million (2001)
- Area: 94,181
- Density: 880/sq. km.
- Electorate: 49.6 m (2004)
- Sex Ratio: 921
- Child Sex Ratio: 938
- Literacy: 48%
- Life Expectancy: 60.7M/58.9F
- Infant Mortality: 67/1000
- Lok Sabha MPs: 40
- Rajya Sabha MPs: 16