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Political parties have once again put up a large number of candidates facing criminal charges in Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections. UP Election Watch and Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) looked at the self-sworn affidavits of 615 candidates out of 623 contesting in the Phase I in 58 constituencies of UP and found 156 (25%) candidates have declared criminal cases against themselves.

The analysis of the affidavits revealed that out of the Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) 57 candidates, 29 (51%) have criminal cases out of which 22 (39%) were facing serious charges. It’s main rival the Samajwadi Party (SP) comes on top with 61 per cent of its candidates in Phase I facing serious criminal cases. Out of the 28 SP candidates analysed, 17 had serious criminal cases with a total of 21 (75%) having criminal cases against them.

Even SP’s alliance partner, the Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) has a high rate of serious criminal cases against its candidates with 15 out of 29 candidates (52 per cent) with serious cases against their name.

The Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) has 16 (29%) out of 56 candidates with serious criminal cases, the Congress has 11 (19%) out of 58 with serious cases and finally the Aam Aadmi Party with five (10%) out of 52 candidates with declared serious criminal cases against them in their affidavits.

There are six candidates with declared cases related to murder under IPC Section 302 against them. At the same time, candidates with declared cases related to attempt to murder under IPC Section 307 are 30.

Out of 156 who declared their criminal cases, Yogesh Verma, fielded by the SP from Hastinapur constituency of UP’s Meerut, has a total of 32 cases against him under 71 serious IPC sections and 145 others.

These includes 15 charges related to punishment for criminal intimidation (IPC Section 506), 13 cases related to attempt to murder (Section 307), and one case related to assault or criminal force to woman with intent to outrage her modesty (Section 354).

When crimes committed against women are considered, then Rashtriya Lok Dal’s Mohammad Yunus from Bulanshahr constituency has one charge related to rape under IPC Section 376 against him. In total he has six cases against him under seven serious sections.

Then there are the likes of Congress party’s Deepak Chaudhary, the Goverdhan candidate in Mathura district, who has a total of five cases against him. The IPC charges relate to the husband or relative of the husband of a woman subjecting her to cruelty (IPC Section 498A).

But he’s not the only candidate charged under this IPC Section. The others are: All India Forward Bloc’s (AIFB) Amit Jani from Siwalkhas Assembly seat, Independent candidates Trilok Chand Sharma from Jewar, and Vijay Kumar from Sahibabad.

The report adds that political parties have not changed, instead they are following “their old practice of giving tickets to around 25 per cent candidates with criminal cases.” It adds that “all major parties contesting in Uttar Pradesh phase I elections have given tickets to 15 per cent to 75 per cent candidates who have declared criminal cases against themselves. The Supreme Court in its directions dated February 13, 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.”

It goes on to say that during the six state Assembly elections held in 2020-21, “it was observed that political parties gave unfounded and baseless reasons like popularity of the person, does good social work, cases are politically motivated etc. These are not sound and cogent reasons for fielding candidates with tainted backgrounds. 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.”

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