Source: 
Times of India
http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/lucknow/From-taint-to-political-umbrella/articleshow/11383218.cms
Author: 
Rajiv Srivastava
Date: 
06.01.2012
City: 
Lucknow

In their desperation to increase the number of winning seats in every election, political parties embrace the 'untouchable' (read tainted) leaders.

They even justify such decisions citing 'political compulsions' or in the 'interest of voters'. Sadly, the voter, who despite raising all hue and cry over corrupt and criminal politicians, often has no choice but to send one of the tainted persons to the assembly or Parliament.

Worse, the trend has been growing over the past three decades. With fives states -- Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Punjab, Goa and Manipur -- going to polls between January end and March beginning, the question on why the volatile mix of politics, crime and corruption continues to plague the electoral scene has once again come to the fore, especially in the badlands of UP.

The entry of Babu Singh Kushwaha, till recently a close aide of Mayawati, into the Bharatiya Janata Party has once again raked up the debate. Opportunism and politics go well together and not ready to lose any opportunity, political parties, including Congress, Bahujan Samaj Party, Samajwadi Party and BJP's alliance partner Janata Dal (United), have training guns on BJP that claims being "party with a difference". Unfazed publicly, the saffron party is making all efforts to defend Kushwaha's induction. While, the opposition parties clamour over induction of Kushwaha in BJP, the party has also welcomed BSP-discards like ex-ministers and MLAs including Badshah Singh and Awadhesh Varma.

Badshah Singh, who has been given BJP ticket like Awadhesh Varma, is known to have criminal record. What also has been lost in the noise is the fact that after mafia don Brijesh Singh, presently lodged in jail, has been fielded from Saiyyedraja assembly constituency by a lesser known Pragatisheel Manav Samaj Party. Another don, Premprakash Singh alias Munna Bajrangi, is set to file his nomination from Maniyahu assembly seat in Jaunpur. Bajrangi is an accused in the murder of BJP MLA Krishnand Rai.

The list does not end here. Tainted ex-BSP MLA Jitendra Singh 'Babloo' has got Peace Party ticket from Bikapur and while another tainted MLA Sonu Singh from Sultanpur has also joined this fringe party. What also has been lost in the clamouring is the fact that this very party has made mafia-turned-MLA Akhilesh Singh of Rae Bareli as party's general secretary, mafia-turned-politician Atiq Ahmed has got Apna Dal ticket from Allahabad. One of the first mafia dons to jump into the political arena in early 80s, Harishanker Tiwari, is likely to get BSP ticket from Chillupaar.

Not lagging behind, Samajwadi Party has fielded mafia-turned politician Abhay Singh from Gosainganj in Faizabad district. The part has also given ticket to jailed MLA Amarmani Tripathi's son Amanmani Tripathi. Mitrasen Yadav, who was recently convicted and sentenced to seven years imprisonment by a Faizabad court, will contest as SP candidate from Bikapur, former BSP MLA Bhagwan Sharma alias Guddu Pandit, who was arrested in 2008 for abducting and raping a college girl, has been fielded by Samajwadi Party from Dibai in Bulandshahr.

The Samajwadi Party is also supporting the candidature of royal family scion Raghuraj Pratap Singh "Raja Bhaiyya". Another SP candidate from Gyanpur, Vijay Mishra, is currently in jail while the party has also fielded close family members of known criminals at some places, including Anup Gupta, son of Om Prakash Gupta from Mahauli in Sitapur, who has a criminal record and is in jail in connection with the foodgrain scam.

Even Congress, till December end, according to National Election Watch, an NGO comprising eminent citizens working towards cleaner politics, has fielded 26 candidates with a criminal background. The dubious club thus includes BJP with 20 candidates, Samajwadi Party (24) and Rashtriya Lok Dal of Ajit Singh with 1 criminal case. Interestingly, According to the National Election Watch, BJP's 20 candidates with tainted records also include its state president Surya Pratap Shahi, who will be contesting from Pathardeva in Kushinagar district.

What has been, however, intriguing for the political pundits is the fact that despite even earlier clamouring over fielding of tainted politicians, the trend has been as old as over three decades. Akhilesh Singh of Rae Bareli, DP Yadav, Harishanker Tiwari, Mukhtar Ansari and Amarmani Tripathi are among the veteran mafia-turned-politicians already in the political arena.

With tainted candidates thrust on them, the voters are often left frustrated. Parties come with strange pleas like let the voters decide whether they like criminals or not and a 'person is innocent till proven guilty". Will the political parties purge the politics of criminal elements? Only time will tell. 

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