The Times of India

MUMBAI: After sending more MPs with serious criminal cases against them to Parliament over the last time, Maharashtra has now elected a higher number of tainted politicians as MLAs.

In the 2014 Assembly, 165 (57%) of the 288 MLAs have declared criminal records. Of them, 115 (40%) face serious charges. In 2009, the corresponding figures were 148 (52%) and 94 (23%).

So, if Raju Shetti, the MP from Hatkanangle and a key ally of the BJP, is accused of murder and attempt to murder, and Ravindra Gaikwad, Sena MP from Osmanabad, faces culpable homicide charges, Sada Sarvankar of the Shiv Sena and BJP's Ram Kadam elected to the Vidhan Sabha on Sunday are accused of culpable homicide too.

In all, Sarvankar, elected from Mahim, has 27 serious criminal cases registered against him and Kadam, re-elected from Ghatkopar (W), has 12 cases against his name.

In Mumbai, 22 (61%) of the 36 MLAs elected in 2014 have criminal records and 13 (36%) have serious criminal cases registered against them. Of the 13, eight belong to the Sena, four to the BJP and one is from Samajwadi Party. Abu Asim Azmi, MLA and Samajwadi Party unit chief in Maharashtra, is accused of extortion and criminal intimidation.

Most MLAs have cases of rioting, unlawful assembly, etc—often attracted during political agitation or such action—registered against them, said Sharad Kumar, coordinator for Association for Democratic Reforms. In identifying MLAs with serious criminal cases against them, the ADR said it considered charges of murder, attempt to murder, rape, kidnapping, extortion, and such like.

In the 2014 Lok Sabha, 31 (65%) of the 48 MPs from Maharashtra are accused of serious criminal offences. Gopal Shetty, BJP MP from North Mumbai, faces charges of cheating and dishonestly inducing delivery of property. In the 2009 Lok Sabha, 26 of the 48 MPs had pending criminal cases.

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