mid-day's analysis of candidates' election affidavits shows 180 have criminal cases registered against them; activist asks how corruption-free governance is possible in such a scenario
Graphic/ Ravi jadhav
Even as political parties are promising transparency and talking about clean politics, 180 candidates with criminal backgrounds are in the poll fray for the country's richest municipal corporation.
mid-day's analysis of election affidavits of candidates of five political parties — Shiv Sena, Congress, BJP, MNS and NCP — has revealed that they have not hesitated in giving tickets those who have criminal cases against them.
Sena has topped the list with 51 candidates having cases against them, followed by MNS (46), Congress and BJP (30 each), and NCP (23). These 180 candidates have in all 393 cases registered against them. Besides minor charges, they also face cheating, molestation, dowry, attempt to murder, and assault on government servants cases.
Anti-socials no bar?
The BMC election is on February 21 and result will be declared on February 23. As per the election commission's guidelines, candidates are supposed to declare their assets and the charges they face in their affidavits.
In the last couple of months, while campaigning, leaders of most parties at different stages have promised corruption-free governance and also said that candidates with criminal background won't be allowed. Recently, NCP chief Sharad Pawar had targeted Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis for welcoming a 'criminal' in his party. In the past, Sena and BJP have also got into spats and accused each other of taking on those facing criminal charges.
Member of F-North Citizens Federation and citizen activist Nikhil Desai slammed the parties' claim of transparency.
"If the top five parties are allowing candidates with criminal backgrounds to contest, then how are they promising to give citizens corruption-free governance? With serious charges like cheating, attempt to murder, and rioting slapped on them, I doubt they can deliver what they are promising," he said.
Despite repeated attempts, city BJP president Ashish Shelar remained unavailable for comment.
Sena candidate from ward 62 Raju Pednekar said, "Most cases against me are political, because I agitated against authorities. I have taken law into my hands only when there was injustice towards people."
"There is no serious offence against me, all cases are related to political activity," said Sena candidate from ward 58 Rajan Padhey. Sena candidate from ward 184 Rajendra Suryavanshi said, "Whatever cases are mentioned in my affidavit relate to political and public agitation."
'The cases registered against our candidates are mainly for participating in public andolans, not for dacoity or rape or other serious offences'
'Most cases are registered during political protests and andolans. While giving tickets, we consider these factors, and have given tickets only to those who have
a good image'
spokesperson, Shiv Sena
'As far as Shiv Sena is concerned, these candidates have political cases only because of public protests, which was because they were fighting for a cause. We consider them as medals and an achievement as we fight for the people. These aren't serious offences'
Mumbai president, Congress
'I have made sure that there are no candidates facing serious charges. The question (of fielding candidates facing criminal cases) should be asked to the Sena and BJP, as these parties are talking about good governance but accusing each other of being extortionists and goondas'
transparency and clean politics?
Political parties offer a significant number of candidates with anti-social background for citizens to choose from