NY Times

When Akhilesh Yadav brought his political party to power in Uttar Pradesh, the largest state in India, he declared that “no callousness in law and order will be tolerated” in the notoriously crime-infested land.

For Mr. Yadav, 38, that would have to begin in his own backyard.

In the recent state assembly polls, half of the legislators elected from his Samajwadi Party have criminal cases pending against them, a quarter of them for serious crimes like rape and murder, according to data pooled by the Association for Democratic Reforms, a nonpartisan group that works for electoral reforms in India.

Rival political parties in Uttar Pradesh don’t have clean records, either. Bahujan Samaj Party has 36.3 percent of their elected assembly legislators with criminal cases pending against them, Bharatiya Janata Party has 53.2 percent, and Indian National Congress 46.4 percent, the watchdog group told India Ink.

From the five states that held assembly elections last week, Uttar Pradesh had the highest percentage of legislators with pending criminal cases — 143 out of the 403-member legislative assembly. A fifth of those charged have serious criminal cases pending against them, according to National Election Watch, a coalition of hundreds of non-governmental organizations, which analyzed the affidavits of all 690 assembly legislators in the five states that held elections.

Heading the list is Dhirendra Pratap Singh of the Bahujan Samaj Party in Uttar Pradesh, with 29 criminal cases pending against him. Sushil Kumar of the same political party and also in Uttar Pradesh, is facing 14 criminal cases. However, the ranking changes if only the most serious crimes are analyzed. Topping the list then is Mitra Sen, of the Samajwadi Party, with 36 criminal cases including 14 cases related to murder, the organization notes.

For Akhilesh Yadav, tasked with heading the country’s largest state, there’s a grimmer statistic to contend with. The number of legislators charged with crime is growing. In the last assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh, held in 2007, 35 percent of assembly legislators had criminal cases pending against them. This year, that figure has shot up to 47 percent.

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