One of every three MLAs elected in the recently-concluded elections is facing criminal charges, states a report released by Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR). The number is sharply higher than in the 2007 elections, which is indicative of the trend of growing use of muscle power and criminalisation of politics in the state.
The ADR report shows that 57 out of 182 MLAs, which works out at more than 31%, have declared criminal cases registered against them. In 2007, 26% of the MLAs – 47 out of 182 – had declared criminal cases.
“Out of the 57 MLAs who have declared criminal cases, 24 are facing serious charges such as murder and kidnapping,” said Prof Jagdeep Chhokar, founder member of ADR.
Leading the pack of MLAs with serious criminal charges is Chhotu Vasava, JD (U) MLA from Jhagadia seat in Bharuch. Vasava is facing nine charges related to dacoity and three charges of murder, among others.
Former minister of state for home, Amit Shah, is facing two murder and kidnapping charges. Shankar Chaudhary, BJP general secretary and MLA from Vav constituency, is facing three charges of murder and attempt to murder.
“The least the Gujarat government should do is to ensure that candidates with serious criminal charges are not given a place in the cabinet,” Chhokar said. Jetha Bharwad, BJP MLA from Shehra seat, who allegedly fired on voters during polling on December 17, is facing kidnapping and rape charges. Congress MLA from Talala, Jashu Barad, is facing one charge of attempt to murder.
BJP MLA from Daskroi, Babulal Patel, former minister and BJP MLA from Bhavnagar Rural Parshottam Solanki and NCP MLA from Kutiyana, Kandhal Jadeja, who is son of Godmother Santokben, are among the other candidates facing serious criminal charges.
The ADR report shows that charges have been framed against 34 MLAs facing criminal charges, which means that charges are yet to be framed against 23 other MLAs.