The phase 1 of Gujarat Assembly elections is scheduled to be held on 1 December.
Despite a Supreme Court directive on decriminalisation of the election process, there has been an increase in number of candidates facing criminal charges in first phase of Gujarat elections, with 21 per cent of candidates declaring criminal cases against them in their affidavits.
The highest number of candidates with criminal background in the Gujarat polls are in the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), according to a report released by Association of Democratic Reforms (ADR).
While only 15 per cent of the candidates contesting in Phase 1 of 2017 assembly elections had declared criminal cases against themselves, the numbers have risen in 2022 to 21 per cent.
While AAP tops the list with the highest number of candidates with criminal backgrounds, there has been a decrease in the number of such candidates in the BJP and the number has remained almost constant for Congress, the reports said.
Of the total 88 AAP candidates in the fray, a total of 32 candidates are facing criminal charges.
A total of 167 candidates, out of the 788 contesting the 89 seats in the first phase of Gujarat Assembly election, have criminal cases against them, with 100 of them facing serious charges like murder and rape, the report said.
According to the ADR, the directions of the Supreme Court had no effect on the political parties in the selection of candidates in Phase-1 or Gujarat Assembly elections.
All major parties contesting in Gujarat in the first phase have given tickets to 16-36 per cent candidates who have declared criminal cases against themselves.
The SC in its directions on 13 February 2020, had specifically instructed political parties to give reasons for such selection and why other individuals without criminal antecedents could not be selected as candidates.
Moreover, 211 of the 788 candidates contesting in the first phase are 'crorepatis', with the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) accounting for 79 such nominees.
Incidentally, the AAP which usually banks on its "clean" and corruption free image, tops the list with 36 per cent of its candidates having criminal cases against them.
The party, which is contesting 88 seats out of the total 89, has given tickets to 30 percent of candidates with serious cases such as murder, rape, assault, kidnapping, among others, the ADR report said. The party has given tickets to 32 candidates with criminal records.
The Arvind Kejriwal-led party is followed by the Congress, which has fielded 35 per cent of its candidates with criminal cases. Twenty per cent of such candidates are facing serious cases.
The grand old party is contesting all 89 seats in the first phase and the number of candidates with criminal cases fielded by it is 31, the report said.
The ruling BJP, which is also contesting on all seats, has fielded 14 candidates with criminal records. Percentage wise, such candidates account for 16 per cent of its total number and 12 per cent are facing serious charges, the ADR said.
The Bharatiya Tribal Party (BTP), which is contesting 14 seats in the first phase, has four candidates (29 per cent) with declared criminal cases. A total seven per cent of its candidates have serious criminal cases this time.
Arun Kumar Das is a senior journalist covering railways. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
An appeal from Swarajya
At Swarajya, we rely on our readers' support through subscriptions to sustain our media platform. Unlike larger conglomerates, we are unable to relentlessly chase advertising money — our model is largely built on your patronage.
Your support has never been more crucial. We work tirelessly to deliver 10-15 high-quality articles daily, ensuring you receive insightful content from 7 AM to 10 PM.
If you believe India's story has to be articulated in a way it has never been done before without shrugging it off, become a patron (or) subscribe now for ₹̶2̶4̶0̶0̶ ₹1999 and get 12 print issues, unlimited digital access for 1 year, a special India that is Bharat T-shirt (Offer ends soon).
We are counting on you!