BHOPAL – Caring two hoots about the concerns of the Supreme Court (SC), and the Election Commission of India (ECI), to stop the criminalisation of politics, the political parties in the ensuing elections to the Madhya Pradesh Legislative Assembly have not dithered to allot tickets to candidates having criminal antecedents.
In 2020 the Supreme Court had reiterated important provisions of its 2018 order aimed at checking and discouraging candidates with criminal cases against them.
Besides asking political parties to show details of such candidates on various online and media platforms, the court had also asked political parties to explain why are they are choosing candidates with criminal background. The apex court had observed that candidate selection should be based on merit, not “winnability”. It may be recalled here that ECI had urged the Supreme Court to direct political parties should not give tickets to candidates with criminal background.
SCI & ECI injunctions & pleas fall on deaf ears of political parties
However, all injunctions and pleas of the Supreme Court and ECI not to criminalise politics have fallen on deaf ears of the political parties in Madhya Pradesh in the ensuing Legislative Assembly elections. This may be equally true in other states too. In Madhya Pradesh 61 candidates have been fielded by the Congress party who are facing serious criminal cases. The Congress is on the top of list of such candidates fielded by other prominent parties. The number of such candidates in the BJP is 23 while the AAP has fielded 18 and BSP 16 such candidates.
The above statistics has been revealed in the report prepared by Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR), and Madhya Pradesh Election Watch (MPEW), after analysing self-sworn affidavits of all 2,534 candidates, contesting the Madhya Pradesh 2023 Assembly Elections which goes to polls on November 17 i.e. next Friday.
The report highlighted that the directions of the Supreme Court have had no effect on the political parties in selection of candidates in 2023 Madhya Pradesh Assembly Elections as they have again followed their old practice of giving tickets to around 19 per cent candidates with criminal charges.
Out of the 2,534 candidates, at least 19 per cent are facing criminal charges against 17 per cent out of the 2,716 candidates in 2018 polls, the report said.
Addressing a Press Conference here Arun Gutru, an ADR member and ex-DGP (Director General Police, Madhya Pradesh) said they aimed at sensitising the Election Commission of India, political parties and voters about various facts related to election contenders.
Cong gives maximum 121 tickets to people with criminal cases
He further said that Congress has given maximum 121 tickets to people with criminal cases followed by the BJP with 65 tickets. Out of 66 candidates fielded by AAP, 26 are facing criminal cases. Similarly, 23 out of 71 SP candidates and 22 out of 181 BSP candidates are facing criminal cases.
“Out of 2,534 candidates analysed, 711 are from national parties, 103 from state parties, 553 from registered unrecognised parties and 1,167 candidates are independent,” the report said.
The report further stated, “Out of 2,534 candidates analysed, and 472 (19 per cent) candidates have declared criminal cases against themselves.” It highlighted that in the 2018 Madhya Pradesh Assembly Elections, out of 2,716 candidates analysed, 464 (17 per cent) had declared criminal cases against themselves.
The report further said that 291 (11 per cent) have declared serious criminal cases. In the 2018 Madhya Pradesh Assembly Elections, 295 (11 per cent) candidates had declared serious criminal cases against themselves.
The report further said that among the major parties, 61 (27 per cent) out of 230 candidates analysed from Congress, 23 (10 per cent) out of 230 candidates analysed from BJP, 18 (27 per cent) out of 66 candidates analysed from AAP and 16 (9 per cent) out of 181 candidates analysed from BSP have declared serious criminal cases against themselves in their affidavits.
The report further stated that 24 candidates have declared cases related to crime against women, including one candidate facing rape case (IPC Section-376). Meanwhile, 10 candidates are facing murder cases (IPC Section-302). While 17 candidates have declared cases related to attempt to murder (IPC Section-307) against themselves.
The report said that 79 (34 per cent) out of 230 constituencies are red alert constituencies. Red alert constituencies are those where three or more contesting candidates have declared criminal cases against themselves.
“At least 76 (33 per cent) constituencies in the 2018 Madhya Pradesh Assembly elections had three or more candidates with declared criminal cases,” the report said.
BJP’s Chaitanya Kashyap Richest Candidate in poll fray
Meanwhile, Chaitanya Kashyap of BJP is the richest candidate contesting the assembly elections. On the second place is BJP’s Sanjay Pathak followed by Congress candidate Sanjay Shukla. Together they have total property of over Rs. 750 crore. At the top is Kayshap who has property of Rs. 296 crore, followed by Sanjay Pathak who has property of Rs. 242 crore, and Congress candidate Sanjay Shukla with Rs. 217 crore properties in his name is in the third place.
Out of 230 seats, BJP have given tickets to 200 such candidates who are crorepatis, while the Congress has given it to 196 candidates. But when it comes to the average, the Congress candidates are richer than all other parties’ candidates.
This report has also been prepared by ADR and MPEW which analysed the self-sworn affidavits of all 2,534 candidates, who are contesting in the issuing elections.
Another member of the ADR, Ms Rolly Shivhare, addressing media on the occasion said the motive of the ADR is to share the details of the property of the would-be law makers with the common people. People will come to know about the property and assets owned by contenders and the growth in their assets compared to last election.
She added that in this election the average property of the contenders is Rs. 2.39 crore, while it was Rs. 1.73 crore in the 2018 election.
According to party-wise average property, Congress is the richest one, the average property of the Congress candidates is Rs 13.69 crore, followed by BJP – 10.46 crore, while AAP’s candidates have average property of 2.27 crore and BSP’s candidates have average property of Rs. 1.96 crore.
There are 1110 candidates who have shown their liabilities in their affidavits. The maximum liability is shown by Congress candidate Nilay Daga contesting election from Betul. He has a liability of Rs. 86 crore against of property of Rs. 177 crore.
Congress candidate from Narsinghpur, Sanjay Sharma has a liability of Rs. 84 crore and property of Rs. 212 crore. The Congress candidate from Indore, Sanjay Shukla has liability of Rs. 63 crore against Rs. 217 crore properties.
Three candidates have shown property of just Rs. 1,000; Pramila Baiga and Raju Khan, both independent candidates. The other contestant Vikram Baiga is contesting on the Vindhya Janata Party ticket.
There are 12 such candidates who have shown their property as ‘zero’. Interestingly none of them is from prominent political parties.
According to Election Commission of India (ECI), instructions every candidate has to share their PAN numbers, but 216 candidates did not share their PAN details.