Hindustan Times
M Tariq Kha

Taint binds all six candidates for the Mehdawal seat in Sant Kabir Nagar, a district named after the 15th-16th century poet-saint. The irony of having to choose from the array of six facing criminal charges is not lost on the constituency's voters, who are not alone in their dilemma in Uttar Pradesh. 

The electorate's choice in 41 other assembly constituencies — out of the 114 that go to polls in the first two phases on February 8 and 11 — is equally limited, according to the Association for Democratic Reforms and National Election Watch.

The citizen watchdog's scrutiny of candidates' affidavits shows Kushinagar district tops the dubious chart with the highest number (21) of tainted candidates.

Despite the holier-than-thou posturing on criminalisation of politics, most parties have people facing criminal charges in their nominee list.

In Mehdawal, Peace Party nominee Anil Kumar faces 13 charges including of attempt to murder. Madan Narain Singh of Congress is facing murder charges. Chandra Shekhar Pandey of Janata Dal (United) has four cases. Laxmikant of the Samajawadi Party, Mohd Tayyab of the ruling Bahujan Samaj Party and Rakesh Singh Baghel of the Bharatiya Janata Party have one case each for rioting and assault.

Percentage wise, muscle power appears at its peak in Mau, where 13 of the 22 candidates including MLA don Mukhtar Ansari face criminal charges.

The presence of tainted candidates could be higher because the citizen watchdog has assessed only 634 candidates of more than 3,000 in the fray.

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