More than 30 percent of Congress and Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) candidates contesting the second phase of Gujarat elections face criminal charges, a new report from the Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) has revealed .
Gujarat Election Watch and ADR have analyzed the self-affidavits of all 833 candidates competing in Phase II in 93 constituencies. At least 19 (20 percent) of the 93 constituencies are Red Alert constituencies – where three or more candidates have brought criminal cases against themselves.
The report says that 163 (20 percent) candidates taking part in the polls to be conducted on December 5 have reported criminal cases against themselves. In Stage 2 of the 2017 Gujarat elections, out of a total of 822 candidates, 101 (12 per cent) had reported criminal cases against themselves. Furthermore, this time 92 (11 percent) candidates reported serious criminal cases, compared to 64 (8 percent) in 2017.
“Among the major parties, 29 (32 percent) of 90 analyzed candidates of INC (Congress), 29 (31 percent) of 93 analyzed candidates of AAP and 18 (19 percent) of 93 analyzed candidates of BJP… declared criminal cases against themselves in their affidavits,” the report reads, adding that 10 from Congress, 17 from AAP and 14 from BJP face serious criminal cases.
Furthermore, nine candidates have reported crimes against women, including MLA Ahir (Bharwad) Jethabhai who is accused of rape. Two candidates have reported murder and eight have reported attempted murder (IPC Section-307). , the report said.
“The directions of the Supreme Court have had no effect on the political parties in the selection of candidates in Phase II of the Gujarat Assembly Elections as they have again followed their old practice of giving tickets to around 20% candidates with criminal cases. All major parties contesting the phase II elections in Gujarat have given tickets to 19% to 33% candidates who have filed criminal cases against themselves. The Supreme Court, in its directions of February 13, 2020, had specifically instructed political parties to provide reasons for such selection and why other individuals with no criminal record could not be selected as candidates,” the report reads.
More crorepatis in battle
At least 245 (29 percent) candidates running in the Phase 2 election are crorepatis, up from 199 (24 percent) in 2017.
“The role of money power in our elections is evident in the fact that all major political parties are giving tickets to wealthy candidates,” the report said, adding that 77 from Congress, 75 from BJP and 35 from AAP declared assets worth of over Rs 1. crore.
The average wealth per candidate this time is Rs 4.25 crore. In 2017, it was Rs 2.39 crore. Further, the average wealth per candidate for BJP is Rs 19.58 crore, from Congress it is Rs 7.61 crore and for AAP it is Rs 5.28 crore.
This time there are slightly more women in the fight compared to last time: 69 (8 percent) female candidates are running in the Phase II elections, up from 61 in 2017.
In the first phase of the Gujarat elections on December 1, about 21 percent of candidates face criminal cases, and most of them belong to the AAP, the ADR had said in an earlier report.
Gujarat goes to polls in two phases on December 1 and 5. The results will be announced on 8 December.
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