Politics and crime in India are so inextricably entwined that the phrase 'politicians with no criminal records' might come across as an oxymoron. And as the country gears up for the Lok Sabha polls that are due in less than 25 days, this fact hits home.
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) released its first list of 184 candidates on Thursday. Of the 184 contenders, 35 — a 19% of the total — had declared criminal cases against themselves in 2014, according to myna.info, a website that analyses the self-sworn affidavits of the candidates who are in the fray for the Lok Sabha polls.
These 35 BJP candidates with criminal records are also among the 78 candidates who have been re-nominated during this Lok Sabha as well. News18.com could not analyse other 106 candidates because they haven’t yet filed their nomination papers along with self-sworn affidavits which show the number of criminal cases registered against a candidate, if any.
The number of candidates with criminal cases registered against them, however, is expected to rise once the remaining 106 new candidates file their nominations.
According to the myneta.info, the candidate who had the highest number of criminal cases filed against him till 2014 was Hansraj Gangaram Ahir from Maharashtra’s Chandrapur constituency. There were a total of 11 criminal cases filed against him till the last Lok Sabha elections. Ahir is a member of the 16th Lok Sabha and currently serves as the MoS Home Affairs.
Ahir is followed by Pratap Sarangi from Odisha’s Balasore. Sarangi had ten criminal cases filed against him.
Interestingly, among other BJP candidates with criminal charges, the current Minister for Road Transport and Highways, Shipping and Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation, Nitin Gadkari, also features in the list. Gadkari, till 2104, had five criminal cases filed against him. Other notable mention is Sakshi Maharaj. He had right criminal cases filed against him till 2014.
The BJP’s first list also has 18 female candidates, who will be in the fray. It should be noted that the saffron party will be releasing another list of candidates in the upcoming days.
In 2014, Association for Democratic Reforms' (ADR), analysed the self-sworn affidavits of 542 of 543 winners in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections and found that BJP led the chart with as many as 98 winning candidates (35%) out of total 282, who back then were facing criminal charges. While as, eight out of total 44 candidates of Congress were facing criminal charges.
The study also found that a candidate with a criminal background was almost twice more likely to win than a candidate with no criminal background. The winning chances of a candidate with criminal background were 13%, while those of a candidate with no criminal background were 5%.