For all the hype and propaganda over Gujarat being a safe state, as many as 14 of the 26 Lok Sabha seats have been categorised as being on red alert as they have more than three candidates in the fray with criminal backgrounds.
History-sheeters or candidates with a criminal background have not been left out by any party, including the righteous Aam Aadmi Party, which has a total of three tainted contestants (13%) including two who have serious criminal charges against them. Jamnagar, Valsad, Amreli and Mehsana top the list with five candidates sporting criminal history.
BJP and Congress are running neck and neck even in fielding dubious candidates — nine each. Even Kandhal Jadeja of the Nationalist Congress Party contesting from Porbandar, the one seat that the Congress has given to the Nationalist Congress Party as part of its pre-poll alliance has a serious criminal case pending against him.
One may, however, draw marginal succour from the fact that in 2009, both BJP and Congress fielded 10 candidates with criminal backgrounds.
Just to point out a few glaring charges, BJP’s Amreli candidate Naran Kachhadiya has a charge of attempt to murder (IPC Section 307), in addition to multiple charges of robbery and dacoity. Janata Dal (United)’s Chhotu Vasava contesting from Surat has multiple charges of murder (Section 302 IPC) and attempt to murder against him.
Gandhinagar candidate LK Advani also has one case pending against him of 1992 that has five IPC sections slapped on him, including two serious sections.
This information has been compiled from the affidavits filed by candidates with the district election officer by the Association of Democratic Reforms. The Delhi-based NGO, started by former professors of the Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad, Jagdeep Chhokar and Trilochan Shastry, has made the categorisation of red alert constituencies.
“The number of candidates being fielded by key parties with criminal history has not reduced. But at least convicted people cannot contest now. It is an achievement,” said Chhokar in Ahmedabad on Monday.