Digpu News
Sanjeev Ramachandran

The list of candidates in Uttarakhand brings to the fore the fact that close to 17% are those with criminal records.

Criminal presence in the poll fray is not new when it comes to elections in India. The Uttarakhand experience has been peculiar from this point of view, with many candidates with criminal records fighting for seats in the state Assembly. It has always been so. And, it isn’t different now too.

A deeper look at the list of candidates who are contesting the upcoming polls in the state would bring to the fore the fact that close to 17 percent of the candidates are those with criminal records attached to their names.

The Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) did a deeper study into the phenomenon and has found that major parties who have fielded candidates have provided tickets to 17 to 33 per cent candidates with a criminal background. And these candidates have also declared in their nomination papers that they indeed have criminal cases against them.

Candidates with criminal records test people’s intelligence

The question is why are they allowed to contest the elections. At a time when voters demand a free and fair poll process, the parties coming up with candidates with criminal records against their names is akin g to testing the common man’s intelligence.

It needs to be noted that the Supreme Court of India has already directed political outfits contesting the elections to submit reasons as to why they do not find people without criminal backgrounds to field for contesting from various constituencies.  This seems to have been totally ignored, going by the percentage of criminal candidates in the fray.

As many 626 candidates were analysed by the ADR, and it found 107, which is cool 17 percent, candidates have declared criminal cases against themselves. This is a bit higher than what was seen during the 2017 polls to the state Assembly. Then as many as 637 candidates were studied, and it was brought to light that 14 percent among them, or 91 to be precise where those with criminal antecedents.

Sending out a wrong message

Constituencies that have three or more candidates with criminal records against their names have been classified as ‘red alert constituencies’. Unfortunately, as many as 13 of the total 70 constituencies come under this tag. And, among them around 61 candidates are those who face serious criminal cases. While the Congress party has fielded 11 candidates with criminal cases against them, the BJP has eight, AAP has nine, and BSP six.

What message do the political parties convey to the general public when they give tickets to candidates with criminal antecedents? The practice, going by the numbers, cannot be seen as dwindling. On the contrary, parties seem to be vying with each other to send criminals to the Assembly as people’s representatives.

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