The Times of India

NAGPUR: Even when there are growing calls for clean candidates to fight elections, with even the Supreme Court weighing in, most political parties have granted tickets to candidates with criminal backgrounds.

A survey by the Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) and Maharashtra Election Watch, revealed that out of 2,334 candidates whose affidavits were analysed, 798 (34%) have declared criminal cases against themselves.

In the 2009 polls, 698 candidates were fielded by major parties, including BJP, Shiv Sena, Congress, MNS and NCP. Of them, a whopping 50% i.e. 352 had a criminal background.

This year is no different for these five major parties, with 640 (49%) of their 1,318 candidates declaring criminal cases. Of them, 537 have serious cases registered against them, including murder, attempt to murder, kidnapping, communal disharmony, among others. Those who face murder charges hail from places like Mumbai, Nashik, Kolhapur, Ahmednagar, Sindhudurg, Latur, Thane, Pune, Jalna and Aurangabad.

Many candidates have even been charged with crimes against women, including rape, outraging modesty, and subjecting them to cruelty for dowry even leading to death.

Among the 2,334 candidates, 12 have declared cases of murder and 44 attempt to murder in various police stations. About 42 of them have cases related to crimes against women and 27 have declared charges related to assault or use of criminal force on women with intention to outrage modesty.

Furthermore, 32 are allegedly involved in kidnapping cases while 52 have robbery or dacoity charges to their credit. Some 13 have cases related to causing disharmony and promoting enmity between different groups on the grounds of religion, race and language.

Out of 798 candidates with criminal background, charges have already been framed against 341 (43%). National parties like Congress and BJP have taken the lead in giving tickets to those with criminal antecedents. While 169 of 278 contestants fielded by the Sena have criminal background, 118 of 218 from MNS have charges pending. They are followed by BJP (118 of 218), NCP (138 of 253) and Congress (96 of 287) candidates in having cases registered against them.

On a positive note, the party wise survey indicated there is a marginal drop in contestants with criminal cases. BJP recorded a 6% decrease, followed by its former alliance partner Sena with 4%, and MNS with 3%. However, NCP's graph shows an increase of 6% as compared to last assembly polls.

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