Source: 
The Statesman
https://www.thestatesman.com/india/odisha-polls-54-bjp-candidates-in-1st-phase-face-serious-criminal-charges-1503297731.html
Author: 
Statesman News Service
Date: 
06.05.2024
City: 
Bhubaneswar

As many as 54% of BJP candidates in the fray for the Odisha Assembly polls in the first phase on May 13 are facing trial in serious criminal cases, according to poll rights body Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR).

As many as 54% of BJP candidates in the fray for the Odisha Assembly polls in the first phase on May 13 are facing trial in serious criminal cases, according to poll rights body Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR).

The ADR analyzed the self-sworn affidavits of all 243 candidates, who are contesting in the Odisha Assembly Elections Phase I in 28 Assembly seats coming under four Parliamentary constituencies.

Among the major parties, 15(54%) out of 28 candidates analyzed from BJP, 10(36%) out of 28 candidates from INC, 3 (27%) out of 11 candidates from AAP, and 4(14%) out of 28 candidates from BJD have declared serious criminal cases against themselves in their affidavits, ADR said on Monday.

The criteria for serious criminal cases, according to ADR, includes offences for which maximum punishment is of 5 years or more and if an offence is non-bailable.

The electoral offence (IPC 171E or bribery), offence related to loss to exchequer, assault, murder, kidnap, rape related cases, offences under Representation of the People Act (Section 8), offences under Prevention of Corruption Act besides crimes against women are also categorized as serious criminal offences, the ADR report said.

Out of 243 candidates analyzed, 65 (27%) candidates have declared criminal cases against themselves. As many as 48(20%) have declared serious criminal cases against themselves.

Among the major parties, 18(64%) out of 28 candidates analysed from BJP, 17(61%) out of 28 candidates analysed from Congress, 9 (32%) out of 28 candidates analysed from BJD and 3 (27%) out of 11 candidates analysed from AAP have declared criminal cases against themselves in their affidavits.

12(43%) out of 28 constituencies are red alert constituencies. Red alert constituencies are those where 3 or more contesting candidates have declared criminal cases against themselves.

The directions of the Supreme Court have had no effect on the political parties in selection of candidates in the Odisha Assembly Elections Phase I as they have again followed their old practice of giving tickets to around 27% candidates with criminal cases, ADR stated.

All major parties contesting in Odisha Elections Phase 1 have given tickets from 27 % to 64 % candidates who have declared criminal cases against themselves. The Supreme Court in its directions on 13 February, 2020 had 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 reference to qualifications, achievements and merit of the candidate concerned, ii said.

During the recent 5 State Assembly elections held in 2023, it was observed that political parties gave unfounded and baseless reasons like popularity of the person, does good social work, cases are politically motivated etc. These are not sound and cogent reasons for fielding candidates with tainted backgrounds.

This data clearly shows that political parties have no interest in reforming the electoral system and our democracy will continue to suffer at the hands of lawbreakers who become lawmakers, it concluded.

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