The Association for Democratic Reforms reports showed that 330 of the 1,621 candidates contesting the next month's Gujarat Assembly elections have declared criminal cases against themselves. BJP's Jetha Bharwad, contesting from Shehra seat in Panchmahal district, is accused of rape, abduction, extortion, outraging the modesty of woman, etc.
NEW DELHI — Of the total 1,621 candidates contesting the next month’s Gujarat Assembly elections, 330 have criminal cases registered against them. The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) tops the list with 61 such candidates, the Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) report said on Monday.
The total number of candidates with criminal cases stood at 238 in the 2017 Gujarat Assembly polls.
The Assembly polls in Gujarat will be held in two phases on December 1 and December 5. The results will be declared on December 8. The Congress, the Bharatiya Janata Party and the Aam Aadmi Party are the main contenders in the polls.
As per the ADR report released on Monday, 60 candidates from Congress and 32 from the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) have criminal cases against them.
192 booked for serious offences
A total of 192 candidates are booked for serious offences related to murder, rape, and attempt to murder, including 96 from Congress, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and AAP, the ADR said citing the analysis of affidavits of all 1,621 contestants in the fray for the two-phase polls.
The 330 candidates with criminal cases against their names comprise 167 contesting 89 seats in the first phase, out of the total 788 candidates, and 163 in the second phase’s 93 seats, out of the total 822 contestants, the ADR analysis revealed.
As far as candidates with serious crimes are concerned, AAP tops the list with 43, followed by Congress with 28 and BJP with 25. There are 181, 179 and 182 candidates contesting from AAP, Congress and BJP, respectively, in the polls for the 182-member state Assembly.
The Association for Democratic Reforms defines serious crimes as non-bailable offences that attract a maximum punishment of five years and more. These are crimes related to assault, murder, kidnap and rape, as well as crimes against women, and corruption cases, ADR said.
Kiran Patel, who is contesting on an AAP ticket from the Daskroi seat in Ahmedabad district, has a murder case lodged against him. Kirit Patel, the Congress candidate from Patan seat, has been booked for an attempt to murder, while BJP’s Jetha Bharwad, contesting from Shehra seat in Panchmahal district, is accused of rape, abduction, extortion, outraging the modesty of woman, etc, report says.
SC’s directive ignored
The ADR, in its report, also claimed directions of the Supreme Court have had no effect on political parties while selecting candidates.
In February 2020, the Supreme Court had passed an order directing political parties to cite reasons for selecting candidates having criminal history and as to why those who did not have any such records were not considered.
The ADR also said that the data shows that political parties “have no interest in reforming the electoral system and our democracy will continue to suffer at the hands of lawbreakers who become lawmakers.”
Of the 1,621 candidates, 456 of them, or 28%, have a declared wealth of over Rs 1 crore, the reports showed. In the 2017 polls, there were 397 candidates having wealth above Rs 1 crore.
The BJP has given tickets to the highest number of crorepatis with 154 such candidates, followed by 142 from the Congress and 62 from the Aam Aadmi Party.
BJP candidate from Mansa Jayantibhai Somabhai Patel is the richest with a total assets of over Rs 661 crore, followed by Balvantsinh Chandansinh Rajput, who also from the ruling party, BJP candidate from Mansa Jayantibhai Somabhai Patel is the richest with a total assets of over Rs 661 crore, followed by Balvantsinh Chandansinh Rajput, who also from the ruling party, with more than Rs 372 crore, according to report.
Noteably, six candidates have declared zero assets in their affidavits. Neither of them belong to the Congress, the BJP or the Aam Aadmi Party.