People With Criminal Records Among Contestants in Gujarat Polls

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Education wise Congress candidates in fray are more educated, and younger, than those fielded by the BJP.

Abdul Hafiz Lakhani | Caravan Daily

AHMEDABAD — Of the 923 candidates contesting in the first phase of the Gujarat elections, 137 have been declared having criminal cases against them. Of this eight per cent (i.e 78 candidates) have serious criminal cases including charges of murder, attempt to murder etc registered against them. While 15 per cent of the candidates contesting from constituencies that go to poll in the first phase, on December 9, have criminal cases against them.

One of the tainted contestants Mahesh Chotubhai Vasava from Dediapada has a murder charge registered against him. He belongs to the Bhartiya Tribal Party. Two other candidates have rape cases filed against them. The research on tainted leaders contesting Gujarat elections was carried out by the Gujarat Election Watch and the Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR).

  • 25% of BJP and 36% of Congress candidates have criminal charges lodged against them
  • 137 candidates or 15% out of 923 are facing charges like murder, kidnapping and rape
  • 198 candidates are crorepatis
  • Indranil Rajyaguru of Cong is the richest with Rs 141 cr assets
  • 673 (73%) candidates have studied only up to standard 12
  • 17 candidates illiterate; Cong’s 38 and BJP’s 32 candidates are graduates

Of the total 977 candidates who have been fielded,  only 923 candidates had their affidavits analysed as the remaining were either badly scanned or incomplete. It was also found that 24% (21) of the total 89 constituencies that go to polls in the first phase,  fall in the red alert category.

Red alert is a tag given to a constituency that has three or more candidates with declared criminal cases slapped against them, contesting elections. Seven red alert constituencies are those in which the tainted candidates have been fielded by the BJP and the Congress. It should be noted, that in Gujarat, the fight is between BJP and Congress in most of the Assembly seats. Speaking on the red alert categories, Jagdeep Chhokar, of ADR, said, “It’s a tragedy that during election, sometimes people have to pick between two bad candidates.”

“When we request the political parties not to give tickets to those with criminal backgrounds, they argue that people can always choose not to vote for them,” added Chhokar.
“We all know that even if 12 candidates are contesting for a seat, only two have the potential of winning. But the tragedy of red alert areas is that, the potential candidates have a criminal background. So, whoever wins, a criminal will be given the chance to run the government.”

Leading the pack is Congress. Thirty-one of its 86 candidates (36 per cent) have criminal cases against them, 20 have serious criminal charges slapped against them. For BJP, 22 of its 89 candidates (25 per cent) have criminal charges against them, of which 10 have serious criminal charges. AAP, which claims to give tickets to clean candidates, have also fielded two candidates with criminal cases filed against them.

Perhaps the most shocking data revealed by ADR pertains to literacy of contesting candidates. Only 27 per cent of the candidates have studied beyond Higher Secondary while 17 are illiterate. In other words, 673 out of 923 candidates are simple high school pass outs. Education wise, Congress candidates in fray are more educated, and younger, than those fielded by the BJP. The saffron party has 32 candidates (36%) who are graduates, Congress has 38 (44%). If we look at the age factor, BJP has fielded older candidates. BJP has 42 candidates above 55 years of age while Congress has 28.

 

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