The Times of India
Ashish Tripathi

LUCKNOW: Uttar Pradesh(UP) not only tops in crime rate and politicians with criminal record, it also has maximum number of members of legislative assembly(MLAs) facing charges of crimes against women, including rape.

Total 42 MLAs taken together from all the states of the country have declared charges of crimes against women in their sworn affidavits submitted with the Election Commission of India (ECI) at the time of election. Of these, maximum 12 MLAs are from UP follwed by and West Bengal with seven MLAs each, reveals a study conducted by the Association of Democratic Reforms(ADR), an umbrella body of civil society organisations working for probity and transparency in politics. The study is based on the details provided by the MLAs and MPs to ECI while filing their nomination for the elections.

In UP, six MLAs have declared rape charges pending against them. Of these six, four are from UP, which include three from the ruling Samajwadi Party (SP) and one from Bahujan Samaj Party(BSP). The SP MLAs include Guddu Pandit (MLA from Debai), Anoop Sanda(Sultanpur) and Manoj Kumar Paras(Nagina). BSP MLA, Aleem Khan from Bulandshahr, is also facing rape charges. The two MLAs facing similar charge from other states are Bhartiya Janta Party's Jethabhai G Ahir from Gujarat and Telgu Desham Party's Kandikunta Venkata Prasad from Andhra Pradesh.

Other than these six MLAs, there are 36 MLAs who have declared that they have other charges of crimes against women such as outraging the modesty of a woman, assault, insulting the modesty of a woman etc. Of these 36 MLAs, six are from Congress, five from BJP and three from SP. Further, two Members of Parliament(MPs), Semmalai S of ADMK from the Salem constituency in Tamil Nadu and Adhikari Suvendu of AITC from the Tamluk constituency in West Bengal, have declared that they have charges of crimes against women, such as cruelty and intent to outrage a woman's modesty etc.

Around 287 candidates, who have declared that they have charges of crime against women, contested legislative assembly elections held in the last five years in various states. The charges include rape, outraging the modesty of a woman, assault, insulting the modesty of a woman etc— 72 candidates were independent, 24 were given tickets by the BJP, 26 candidates were fielded by the Congress, the BSP gave tickets to 18 and the SP to 16. Maximum number of such candidates contesting elections were from Maharasthra(41), followed by Uttar Pradesh(37) and West Bengal(22).

Further, around 27 candidates who declared that they have been charged with rape, ten were from UP and five from Bihar. In UP, while SP gave tickets to five candidates facing rape charges, BJP and BSP fielded two each. However, of total twenty-seven, six won the elections, of which four are from UP.

In the 2009 Lok Sabha elections, political parties had given tickets to six candidates who declared that they have been charged with rape. Of these, one each were from RPP, RCP, BSP, JMM and two were independent candidates. Out six candidates facing rape charges, three were from Bihar, one each from Delhi, UP and Andhra Pradesh.

Apart from these six candidates with rape charges, 34 other contesting candidates in 2009 declared that they have charges of crimes against women. Maximum cases of crimes against women are against candidates from Bihar(9), followed by Maharashtra(6) and UP(5).

The ADR has strongly recommend that political parties should stop giving tickets to candidates with criminal backgrounds and who have been charged with serious crimes like murder, attempt to murder, especially crimes against women such as rape.

It also said that on one hand parties condemn crime against women while speaking in the parliament but on the other by giving tickets to candidates who have been charged with crimes against women, particularly rape, they parties in a way have been abetting crime. Candidates with a criminal background should be debarred from contesting elections and political parties should be forced to disclose the criteria on which candidates are given tickets. Cases against MPs and MLAs should be fast tracked and decided upon in a time bound manner.

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