Despite their rhetoric of promoting people with a clean track record, major parties have fielded candidates facing serious criminal cases in the Punjab assembly polls.

Out of the total 1,145 candidates in the fray in Punjab, 101 have criminal cases against them. Of them, 78 have cases of serious nature – murder, assault, loss of exchequer, offences under Section 8 of Representation of the People Act and all the non-bailable offences with maximum punishment of five or more years.

As per the figures released on Sunday by the Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR), onethird (27) of these candidates are from major political parties.

The Congress and the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) have nine candidates each with serious criminal cases registered against them, followed by the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) which has eight such nominees. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has also fielded one candidate with criminal record.

The ADR said four candidates have murder cases registered against them, 11 attempt to murder cases and six are booked in cases related to crime against women. The remaining 23 candidates have cases against them which are not serious in nature.

The trend, though, has seen a downward slide. In 2012 assembly polls, the Congress had fielded 20% candidates with criminal record, SAD 19% and BJP 9%. The figures have now come down to the Congress 8%, SAD 9% and BJP 4%.

The AAP, a new entrant in the state assembly polls, has been positioning itself as champion of clean politics, but it too couldn’t find clean candidates.

Prof Jagdeep Chokkar, founder member of ADR, said, the criminalisation in politics was on the rise, but parties are now trying to field fewer candidates with criminal background.

AAP’s coalition partner Lok Insaaf Party is contesting on a total of five constituencies, but has three candidates with criminal background.

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