GUWAHATI: The assembly election is around the corner and political parties are worried about lawmakers having criminal records before the crucial battle of ballots.

A report prepared by the Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) and Assam Election Watch revealed that at least 15 out of 119 MLAs in Assam have pending criminal cases of which 11 are serious in nature. Of the 15, 7 are from BJP, five from Congress, two from AIUDF and one is an Independent.

The Assam assembly has 126 members in total.

The ADR and Assam Election Watch have analysed the affidavits submitted by 119 of 126 MLAs. Six seats are lying vacant at present and the records of BJP MLA Mansing Rongpi could not be analysed due to lack of clarity in his unclear affidavit on the Election Commission website.

Tasaduk Ariful Hussain, state coordinator of National Election Watch, told TOI that there will be 20-25 MLAs having criminal records in the next assembly if the trend continues and 100% lawmakers after 30 years.

“It is a major concern. Political parties should be cautious while distributing tickets to candidates for the elections and voters should also be cautious while casting votes,” Hussain said. He further pointed out that there is no legislation to prevent candidates with criminal records from being elected at present despite the recommendations of the Supreme Court and the Law Commission.

In 2018, the apex court, while declining to ban politicians with criminal cases from contesting elections, had underlined that it is time Parliament enacts laws to ensure that people with criminal cases do not enter politics. 

The report said the number of MLAs with pending criminal cases increased from 7 in 2006 to 15 in 2016. Similarly, the number of MLAs with serious criminal cases also increased to 10 in 2016 from 5 in 2006.

The names of BJP MLAs figuring in the list are of Aminul Haque Laskar, Kushal Dowari, Shiladitya Dev, Naba Kumar Doley, Rama Kanta Dewri, Narayan Deka, Dipak Kumar Rabha, AIUDF MLAs Ananta Kumar Malo and Rafiqul Islam. The Congress MLAs are Kamalakhya Dey Purkayastha, Debabrata Saikia, Abul Kalam Rasheed Alam, Nurul Huda and Jamaluddin Ahmed. The Independent MLA concerned is Bhubon Pegu.

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