Source: 
The Week
Author: 
Date: 
10.09.2021
City: 

The Bahujan Samaj Party leader Mayawati took to social media to announce that the party was choosing a candidate without a criminal background in Mau- over the strongman Mukhtar Ansari and hoped that other parties would follow.

“It is a request to party in charge to bear this in mind while selecting candidates so that after coming to power there is no hesitation in taking action against such (criminal) elements”, Mayawati wrote.

Ansari, currently facing some 52 criminal charges in the state and elsewhere is lodged in the Banda jail- where he was ferried to after a very visible operation from Punjab’s Rupnagar jail. The denial of a ticket to him is more symbolic as the current government has been tough on him and there is no likelihood of him being able to step out of jail or even canvass symbolically.

Bhim Rajbhar- the BSP state unit who has been given the ticket is a member of the Other Backward Castes- a socio-economic group that is the focus of all political parties for the forthcoming state Assembly polls.

In the past, the BSP has been Ansari’s home, despite his criminal background.

He joined the party, with a big list of criminal cases against his name, in 2007, and two years later, was fielded as the party’s candidate from Varanasi. He lost to BJP’s Murli Manohar Joshi. In 2010, he was expelled from the BSP as his name cropped up in yet another murder case. Yet, when he and one of his brothers Sibtullah won the subsequent Vidhan Sabha elections under the banner of the Quami Ekta Dal, which the brothers had floated, BSP had no qualms in merging the smaller political outfit with it.

He had subsequently attempted to join the Samajwadi Party (SP) but came up against an unrelenting Akhilesh Yadav. It is the SP he may turn to again this time.

The BSP’s public shunning of criminal candidates is new as the party has regularly fielded candidates with a tainted background.

In the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, more than two in five candidates fielded by the BSP had a criminal record. The party had 80 candidates in the fray out of which 35 candidates had criminal cases registered against them. In percentage terms, this put the BSP on number three out of the five parties analysed for a report by the Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR).

The parties analysed- in order of the proportion of candidates with criminal background were Indian National Congress, SP, BSP, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Aam Aadmi Party (AAP).

Among the candidates fielded by the BSP in 2014; 34 per cent had serious criminal charges against them. The BSP fielded the most number of candidates, eight, with murder charges against them. This was more than double the number of candidates with the same charges fielded by other parties. The biggest number of candidates with an attempt to murder charge also is from BSP. Though, its number of 10 such candidates was the same as the number fielded by the SP.

Four BSP candidates were charged with kidnapping; one with rape and crimes against women; two with disrupting communal harmony; and eight with robbery and dacoity. 

In the 2017 Vidhan Sabha polls of Uttar Pradesh, the BSP had the greatest proportion of candidates- 38 per cent with a criminal background. Thus, 150 of its 400 candidates had criminal cases against them. Of these, 123 had serious criminal cases listed against their name.

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