The Hindu

They include murder, attempt to murder and kidnapping

As many as 40 candidates figuring in the first lists of the BJP and Congress have criminal cases against them, according to an analysis of candidate profiles by Karnataka Election Watch.

They comprise 21 per cent of the 194 candidates whose affidavits from the last elections (2008) were available, members of KEW — the State arm of Election Watch that focusses on electoral reforms — told a news conference in Bangalore on Friday.

The two major parties totally announced 317 names in their respective first lists last week. Of them, affidavits were available for 85 from the BJP and 109 from Congress.

IIM-B professor and Election Watch founder and trustee Trilochan Sastry said it was of concern that major political parties continued to field people who were facing criminal charges, some as serious as murder.

The BJP’s list included 24 persons or 28 per cent of 85 whose disclosures are available. For the Congress, this was 15 per cent or 16 of the 109 candidates whose affidavits were available.

Ten nominees of the BJP and six of Congress were involved in serious charges such as murder, attempt to murder and kidnapping as per affidavits of 2008 that KEW obtained.

Prof. Sastry clarified that KEW did not have updates on whether some of these cases were withdrawn post-2008 or not. Some of the persons may have changed parties or resigned, he said.

Among them, the KEW analysis names Bhalki MLA Eshwara Bhimanna Khandre (Congress) with four criminal cases; Arabhavi MLA Balachandra Jarkiholi (BJP) and Yemkanmardi MLA Satish Jarkiholi (Congress) with one case each. Anil Bairwal, national coordinator for KEW associate body, the Association for Democratic Reforms, said parties should be seriously questioned on their choice of candidates.

KEW said it urged political parties to disclose their criteria for selection of candidates. “The criteria must [include] the ability and willingness of candidates to do legislature work. Parties must include parameters for improving the performance of legislatures in their manifestoes.”

Silent lot

Sixty-five MLAs did not ask any question in the House during the five years, and they included 45 from the BJP and 11 from Congress.

And also, the Assembly on an average met for only 33 days a year.

Congress MLA for Mangalore U.T. Khadar raised 401 questions, followed by party colleagues Mr. Bhimanna Khandre with 354, and N.A. Haris with 331.

In the top five are BJP’s K.G. Kumara Swamy (Shimoga Rural) with 275 questions and C.B. Suresh Babu (Chiknayakanhalli) of the JD(S) with 152 questions.

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