In a little more than a month, there will be assembly elections in 5 states and the question on everyone’s mind is, ‘who are we voting for?’. Preliminary research revealed that there is very little information about the candidates’ background available through government channels. After going through several pages of online resources we chanced on the National Election Watch (NEW), a nationwide campaign comprising about 1200 NGO and other civil society organisations which has attempted to provide us with a comprehensive analysis of the candidates and their backgrounds including financial and criminal records.
This post will focus on the future leaders of Uttar Pradesh. Analysis of the backgrounds of the candidates who are up for re-election reveal a rather disappointing truth, there are about 77 candidates with criminal records across all parties contesting to lead our country.
Of the 220 candidates fielded by the BJP, 295 fielded by the INC, 165 by the SP and 17 declared by the RLD, NEW found affidavits submitted by 248 of them during the last election. 38 of these candidates have serious criminal cases like murder, attempt to murder, robbery, theft and kidnapping against them. This begs the questions, are we being given a fair choice of leaders to elect?
If we shine the spotlight on the 215 candidates declared by the INC this year, we find that of the 75 affidavits filed, 26 candidates have criminal charges pending against them and 13 of them have serious charges pending.
Have you met Raja Bhaiya?
Raghuraj Pratap Singh a.k.a Raja Bhaiya is a lawyer by education and a raja by inclination and a Samajwadi Party candidate. He was arrested as a suspected terrorist in 2002 under POTA and refused bail several times. Undaunted by this arrest, he was released within minutes of the Mulayam Singh government coming into power. He is still under investigation for the death of police office R.S.Pandey who had accused Raja Bhaiya of launching a vendetta against him. Ever since the Mayawati government came into power in 2007, he has been under the police radar.
For the world’s largest democracy, elections have always been ‘entertaining’ but are we choosing between the devil and deep blue sea?