Sixty-one of the 181 Aam Aadmi Party candidates contesting the Gujarat Assembly elections have declared criminal cases against themselves, showed two reports by non-governmental organisation Association for Democratic Reforms.

The Assembly polls in Gujarat will be held in two phases on December 1 and December 5. The results will be declared on December 8. The Congress, the Bharatiya Janata Party and the Aam Aadmi Party are the main contenders in the polls.

An analysis of the reports on the two phases published by the Association for Democratic Reforms on November 24 and November 28 showed that 330 of the 1,621 candidates contesting the polls have declared criminal cases against themselves.

This is an increase in such declarations from the 2017 Assembly elections when 238 candidates had criminal cases against them.

(Courtesy of Association for Democratic Reforms)
(Courtesy of Association for Democratic Reforms)

The analysis showed that 60 of the 179 candidates from the Congress have been named in criminal cases, while the figure stood at 32, out of 182 candidates, for the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party.

Forty of the Aam Aadmi Party candidates have serious criminal cases against them, the Congress has 28 such candidates and the BJP 25. The Association for Democratic Reforms defines serious crimes as non-bailable offences that attract a maximum punishment of five years and more. These are crimes related to assault, murder, kidnap and rape, as well as crimes against women and corruption cases.

BJP’s Jetha Bharwad, contesting the Shehra seat, has been accused of rape. Five candidates have declared cases related to murder.

The Association for Democratic Reforms said that the directions given by the Supreme Court have not had any effect on political parties as 21% of the candidates vying in the first phase of polling, and around 20% in the second phase, have criminal cases against them.

In February 2020, the Supreme Court had passed an order directing political parties to cite reasons for selecting candidates having criminal history and as to why those who did not have any such records were not considered.

The Association for Democratic Reforms also said that the data 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.”

Over 450 candidates crorepatis

Of the 1,621 candidates, 456 of them, or 28%, have a declared wealth of over Rs 1 crore, the reports showed. In the 2017 polls, there were 397 candidates having wealth above Rs 1 crore.

In this year’s elections, the BJP has given tickets to the highest number of crorepatis with 154 such candidates, followed by 142 from the Congress and 62 from the Aam Aadmi Party.

BJP candidate from Mansa Jayantibhai Somabhai Patel is the richest with a total assets of over Rs 661 crore, followed by Balvantsinh Chandansinh Rajput, who also from the ruling party, with more than Rs 372 crore and Aam Aadmi Party’s Ajitsinh Parsottamdas Thakor with more than Rs 343 crore.

All these three candidates are contesting in the second phase.

Six candidates have declared zero assets in their affidavits. Neither of them belong to the Congress, the BJP or the Aam Aadmi Party.

(Courtesy of Association for Democratic Reforms)
(Courtesy of Association for Democratic Reforms)

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