New Delhi: The Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) has said that around 18 per cent of the candidates in the fray during the by-polls for eight Gujarat Assembly seats have declared criminal cases pending against themselves.
As per an ADR report, 14 of the 80 candidates whose poll affidavits were analysed had declared criminal cases, of which seven were facing serious criminal cases.
The ADR report said that party-wise, one of the two candidates of Bharatiya Tribal Party, 3 of the 8 candidates of BJP, 2 of the 8 candidates of the Congress, and 8 of the 53 Independent candidates have declared pending criminal cases.
Those facing serious criminal cases include one of the two candidates of Bharatiya Tribal Party, two of the eight candidates from the BJP, and 4 out of 53 Independent nominees.
Two candidates have attempt-to-murder cases pending against them. Two of the eight constituencies are ‘red alert’ constituencies — those where three or more contesting candidates have declared criminal cases against themselves.
“The Supreme Court directions have had no effect on political parties in the selection of candidates as they have again followed their old practice of giving tickets to around 18 per cent candidates with pending criminal cases. All major parties contesting the Gujarat by-elections have given tickets to 25 to 38 per cent such candidates,” the election watchdog body said.
The Supreme Court order dated February 13, 2020 had specifically instructed parties to give reasons for selection of such candidates and why other individuals without criminal antecedents could not be selected for party tickets.
As per these mandatory guidelines, the reasons for such selection has to be with reference to qualifications, achievements and merit of the candidate concerned. Therefore, such unfounded and baseless reasons given by parties like popularity of the contestant, good social work, politically motivated cases etc are not sound and cogent reasons for fielding candidates with tainted backgrounds, the ADR contended.
“This data clearly 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,” it alleged.
The by-polls in Abdasa, Limbdi, Morbi, Dhari, Gadhada, Karjan, Dang and Kaprada Assembly segments were necessitated after the sitting Congress MLAs resigned. The voting is slated to be held on November 3.