Alka Jain

Around 330 of the total 1,621 candidates, who are contesting the Gujarat Assembly elections in early December, have criminal cases registered against them. The report revealed that the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) tops the list with 61 such candidates, according to the Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) report on Monday.

Of these 330 candidates with criminal cases, 167 are contesting 89 seats in the first phase, while 163 in the second phase on 93 seats, the ADR analysis report revealed.

In the 2017 elections, there were 238 candidates with criminal cases contested in Gujarat polls, as per PTI reports.

The ADR report, based on a survey of candidates from both phases, was released on Monday. It cited the analysis of affidavits of all 1,621 contestants in the fray for the two-phase Gujarat polls scheduled for December 1 and 5.

The grand old party, Congress stands in the second position with 60 such candidates, followed by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) with 32 contestants having criminal cases against them.

As per the ADR report, a total of 192 candidates are booked for serious offenses related to murder, rape, and attempt to murder, including 96 from Congress, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), and AAP. The Arvind Kejriwal-led AAP tops the list with 43 candidates booked for serious crimes, followed by Congress with 28, and BJP with 25, news agency PTI reported.

In the 182-member state Assembly polls, AAP has fielded 181 candidates, followed by Congress with 179 contestants, and BJP with 182. 

Besides this, as many as 18 candidates have been named in crimes against women, while one is accused of rape, five have murder charges, and 20 are accused of attempting to murder, the reports said. 

From AAP, Kiran Patel who is contesting from the Daskroi seat in the Ahmedabad district has a murder case registered against him. In Congress, Kirit Patel with an attempt to murder case is contesting from the Patan seat, while BJP's Jetha Bharwad, contesting from the Shehra seat in the Panchmahal district, is accused of rape, abduction, extortion, outraging the modesty of woman, etc.

The report also claimed that the Supreme Court directions have had no effect on political parties while selecting candidates. In February 2020, the top court specifically instructed political parties to give reasons for such selection and why other individuals without criminal antecedents could not be selected as candidates.

As per these mandatory guidelines, the reasons for such selection have to be with the reference to qualifications, achievements, and merit of the candidate concerned.

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