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One in five candidates in Gujarat have tainted background
December 04, 2007 22:05 IST
One in five candidates in the first phase of the Gujarat assembly elections have has a criminal record with the Congress leading the dubious pack. The crimes range from murder and dacoity to arson and financial fraud, according to a study.
Out of the 668 candidates from 87 constituencies in the fray in the first phase on December 11, a total of 117 have serious criminal cases pending against them. They include fisheries minister and Koli community strongman Purshottam Solanki and Congress leader of Saurashtra Vitthal Radadia.
The details of the criminal records of the candidates were compiled by Gujarat Election Watch, a non-governmental organisation, on the basis of their affidavits, which is to be compulsorily filed as per a Supreme Court order.
Of the 81 nominees fielded by Congress, 28 have criminal records while Bharatiya Janata Party's 16 candidates of its 87 had this dubious distinction.
The tally of the candidates with criminal records belonging to the Bahujan Samaj Party, which is contesting all the 87 seats, is 15. The Janata Dal-United has given tickets to six candidates with criminal records of its 18 contesting in the first phase of polls.
The remaining candidates having criminal records are either independents or belong to small parties.
Cases against the tainted candidates relate to murder, attempt to murder, threat to kill, kidnapping and other violent crimes like dacoity, assault, rioting, arson, jail break and financial fraud.
Interestingly, both the BJP and the Congress have not hesitated to give tickets to the candidates with criminal records. Both the leading parties have fielded nine sitting MLAs, each of them with criminal cases pending against them.
Radadia has shown in his affidavit that he has 16 criminal cases pending against him, including criminal intimidations and beating government officials on duty.
Solanki, who is contesting from Ghogha, has shown two cases pending against him in his home district of Bhavnagar. In the affidavit filed by him in the last elections in 2002, he had said that there were more than 10 cases pending against him in Mumbai.
The Election Watch has found that out of the 44 BJP and Congress candidates with pending criminal cases contesting the election this time, 20 also contested the elections in 2002. Nine of these 20 candidates have declared lesser number of cases in their 2007 affidavits.
"The idea behind our collecting the affidavits of all the candidates and releasing the names of candidates with criminal records is to make the voters aware. It is the voters who have to decide on their choice," retired chief justice of Gujarat high court B J Diwan, a member of the Election Watch, said.
"We have tied up with non-government organisations who will take this data to the people," Jagdeep Choker, a retired Indian Institute of Management professor, also a member of the NGO, said.