DNA Mumbai
Ashutosh Shukla

Dharavi, the dark underbelly of Mumbai, that used to be the den to erstwhile ganglords like Varadarajan Mudaliar, has no candidate with criminal records in the forthcoming assembly elections. The only other area is Mumbadevi.

The percentage of contestants with criminal cases fighting the elections has declined from over 30% to around 26% this year. The data is a comparison of 470 contestants in the fray from three districts of Mumbai city, its suburbs and Thane.

There are 60 seats, but these details are of 55 seats, as information from Malabar Hill, Colaba, Sewri, Sion-Koliwada and Mahim constituencies was not available. Dharavi and Borivli have the least contestants — seven — and all have pan cards.

These preliminary findings are from analyses and a comparative study conducted by the non-governmental organisations Agni and the Association for Democratic Reform (ADR), which conduct ‘election watches’. It is credit to them that a public interest litigation culminated in a Supreme Court order directing contestants to declare their assets, liabilities and criminal cases in affidavits.

“The source of the study is affidavits filed by contestants. It is done to help voters make an informed choice,” Agni trustee Sharad Kumar said. “We see this as a positive development.

There is a drop in number of criminal candidates contesting, compared to the last time. Political parties have not completely stopped giving tickets to candidates with cases, but they at least see the point in our demand,” ADR founder trustee Ajit Ranade said.

Of 705 candidates in the fray, 470 were analysed, and it was found that 126 have criminal cases pending against them, which is about 26%. Among 80 political parties in the fray, the Shiv Sena with 22 candidates (out of 32) has the most candidates with criminal cases.

It is followed by the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena - 24 (42), Bahujan Samaj Party - 12 (45), Bharatiya Janata Party - 9 (15), Indian National Congress - 8 (33), Nationalist Congress Party - 5 (11), Bharip Bhahujan Mahasangh 2 - (16) and 19 from recognised parties.

Many independents too have criminal cases against them. Bhavesh Bhinde, contesting from Mulund, has the most: 23. Among constituencies, Magathane leads with 57% contestants having criminal records. Arun Gawli is the only contestant to have been convicted.

“For the others, cases are pending but contestants claim they are politically motivated. We are trying to ensure that the source of income and property value is stated as per market price and not purchase price in affidavits, so that a sudden jump in income is known,” Ranade said.

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