Amid all the talk of denying criminal elements tickets in the November 25 elections in Madhya Pradesh,the proportion of candidates with criminal cases in every major party has actually gone up since the 2008 elections.
Of the 686 candidates of major political parties,206,or 30 per cent,have declared criminal cases in their affidavits. And 120 of these 206 potential lawmakers face serious charges such as murder,attempt to murder,kidnapping,criminal intimidation and crimes against women.
Warming the opposition benches for the last 10 years,the Congress continues to top the list of such candidates. Of its 228 candidates in the fray this time,91,or nearly 40 per cent,are facing criminal cases. In 2008,31 per cent of its candidates (68 in 217) had declared cases.
Of the 229 BJP candidates,the number of candidates facing cases is 61. That works out to 27 per cent,up from 22 per cent in 2008 when the count was 48 of 216.
Even the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP),which has a marginal presence in MP,has a higher proportion of such candidates than last time 20 per cent in 2008,24 per cent now.
Releasing an analysis of the criminal background of candidates,Madhya Pradesh Election Watch (MPEW) and Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) said in Bhopal Monday that none of the political parties responded to its letters about not fielding candidates facing criminal cases.
The last date for withdrawal of nominations was November 11. The organisations got the official list of candidates only three days ago. Of the 2,583 candidates who filed affidavits,686 belong to the major parties. The affidavits of Kailash Vijayvargiya (BJP),Vijay Singh Chouhan (BSP) and Uday Prakash Mishra (Congress) were not analysed either because the annexure pages had not been uploaded or because the link provided to download the affidavit did not work.
ADR national coordinator Anurga Mittal and Rolly Shivhare of MPEW said that in each of 10 constituencies,at least three candidates had declared criminal cases. MP has 230 seats.
Two candidates,Brijendra Singh (Congress) and Sukhlal Prasad (BSP),have admitted to facing murder charges while seven have declared that they are facing attempt-to-murder charges. Of the five candidates booked for crimes against women,one has declared a case relating to outraging a womans modesty and another has declared one relating to enticing or detaining with criminal intent a married woman.
Eight candidates have declared cases under the Prevention of Corruption Act. Only 10 have been convicted for minor offences,which entail jail terms less than two years.
Mittal and Shivhare said most candidates faced relatively minor offences,including cases slapped while taking part in demonstrations or protests. They felt such offences should be dealt with separately,because many possibly result from political disagreement. Also,not every candidate took these affidavits seriously because in a few cases personal details like age did not match what they had said in previous affidavits.