The Week
Ajay Uprety

Chief Minister Mayawati's ‘clean-up drive' saw the ouster of several Bahujan Samaj Party leaders, including former ministers Babu Singh Kushwaha and Badshah Singh, both of whom then joined the saffron fold. However, the induction of Kushwaha has not gone down well with several BJP leaders, as he is facing a CBI probe in the multi-crore National Rural Health Mission scam.
“The minister [Kushwaha] is responsible for the death of several innocents. His place is in jail and his induction does not serve any purpose,” said BJP MP Yogi Adityanath. Maneka Gandhi, another saffron MP, termed Kushwaha's inclusion in the party as shameful. “This has hiked squabbling in the party,” she said. Every political party has flayed the BJP's move to patronise Kushwaha and other tainted leaders like Badshah Singh. However, almost all political outfits have accommodated candidates with criminal background, ignoring protests from supporters.
According to the findings of the National Election Watch and Association for Democratic Reforms, out of 617 contestants, 77 have criminal antecedents and 38 of them face very serious criminal charges. “The analysis has been made on the basis of an affidavit filed by the contestants in the 2007 UP Assembly polls and the 2009 Parliament elections which is with the Election Commission,” said Anil Bairwal, national coordinator of National Election Watch and Association for Democratic Reforms. The run-up to the 2012 Assembly polls has exposed the unholy nexus between political outfits and criminals.
Said Congress spokesperson Rashid Alvi: “The BJP has exposed its dual character by inducting people like Kushwaha.” However, he is silent on the fact that 26 Congress candidates have criminal antecedents. Keshav Shivhare, the Congress candidate from Hamirpur, is accused of narcotics smuggling and murder. On the list of candidates with criminal antecedents, the Congress and the BJP are on top with 26 each, followed by the Samajwadi Party with 24. Though the BSP is yet to come out with its official list, it is an open secret that it is fielding many tainted candidates.
Many notorious dons have made their way into regional outfits like the Peace Party, the Pragatisheel Manav Samaj Party, the Apna Dal and the Quami Ekta Party. Most of the parties defended the tainted candidates, saying they could not be considered guilty unless convicted in court. Said Apna Dal general secretary Anupriya Patel: “It is not for us to decide whether one is a criminal or a don. It is the duty of court.”
Munna Bajrangi, who is one of the accused in the murder of BJP legislator Krishnanand Rai, has been in Tihar Jail since 2009. However, he has sought the court's permission to contest the election from Madiyahoon as an Apna Dal candidate. Former BSP legislator Bhagwan Sharma alias Guddu Pandit, who was jailed in 2008 for abducting and raping a research scholar of Agra University, has been fielded by the SP from Debai constituency. He was also in jail for abducting 14 block development committee members to ensure the victory of his candidate in a municipal corporation election.
Another SP candidate with criminal antecedents is Abhay Singh of Gosainganj constituency in Faizabad district. Abhay, who is in Faizabad jail, faces 32 criminal charges, ranging from murder and rioting to extortion and illegal detention. In the 2002 Assembly polls, he had contested from Ayodhya on a BSP ticket. Amanmani Tripathi, the son of former minister Amarmani Tripathi, who is in jail after being convicted of the murder of poet Madhumita Shukla, is also an SP candidate.
Another SP candidate, Mitrasen Yadav, 70, from Bikapur constituency has 20 criminal cases against him. The former MLA and MP whose political career spans four decades had been sentenced to life imprisonment by the Faizabad sessions court for murdering two brothers. But he was later pardoned by the Governor, who cleared his mercy petition.
Mukhtar Ansari, a notorious don of eastern UP who is in jail, is a candidate of the Quami Ekta Party. In the last Assembly election, he won as an independent candidate from Mau. Mukhtar, who was earlier associated with the Makhnu Singh gang, was allegedly involved in the murder of Krishnanand Rai. In the 2009 Parliament election, which he contested on a BSP ticket, he lost to Murli Manohar Joshi of the BJP in Varanasi.
The newly-formed PMSP is fielding don Arun Singh alias Brijesh Singh, who is in Ahmedabad jail, from Saidraja. According to police records, he is involved in a dozen murder cases and used to receive about 112 crore every year as extortion money.
Don-turned-politician Atiq Ahmed, who faces two dozen criminal cases ranging from murder and extortion to conspiracy to kill, is an Apna Dal candidate. He was allowed to contest as he was not convicted in these cases. His name was linked to the murder of BSP leader Raju Pal. He had contested the 2009 Parliament election and lost.
Raghuraj Pratap Singh alias Raja Bhaiya, who is contesting from Kunda with the support of the SP, has a list of criminal cases pending against him. Earlier, he had been booked by the Mayawati government under the Prevention of Terrorism Act, but the charges were withdrawn by the Mulayam Singh government and he was made food and civil supplies minister and provided Z-category security.
Badshah Singh, a former minister and BSP leader who recently joined the BJP, faces criminal charges like rioting, attempt to murder, criminal intimidation and assault on women to outrage their modesty. However, the saffron party is likely to field him from Maudha. He was kicked out by Mayawati after he was indicted by the Lokayukta in a land-grabbing case. The Lokayukta had recommended that he should not be considered for any constitutional post in future.
Former BSP legislator Jitendra Singh alias Babloo, the prime accused in the torching of the house of state Congress president Rita Bahuguna Joshi, is the Peace Party candidate of Bikapur. He had contested the 2007 Assembly polls on a BSP ticket. According to BSP state president Swami Prasad Maurya, “Since there was no let up in his nefarious activities, he was expelled from the party and denied a ticket in the 2012 Assembly polls.” Police records mention him as a gangster with more than 11 criminal cases, including murder, arson and extortion.
Manoj Tiwari, the BSP candidate of Patti who is wanted in a murder case, is absconding. The BJP candidate of Rudauli, Ramchandra Yadav, is accused of molesting a woman.
With a host of tainted candidates in all political parties, one needn't expect any respite to the lawlessness in the state even if a new party comes to power.

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