Tainted candidates galore in the Assembly poll fray

South India

BANGALORE: The number of candidates with criminal cases entering the poll fray in the State is witnessing a steady increase over the years. According to an analysis of 498 candidates fielded by the three major political parties in the state by the Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR), 95 candidates with criminal cases pending against them have been re-nominated to contest the Assembly election on May 12.

The number of tickets given by political parties in 2013 elections to MLAs who had declared criminal cases in 2008 were just 40. The Congress Party has the maximum number of re-contesting candidates with criminal cases.

As many as 32 per cent of the party’s re-contesting candidates have criminal cases pending against them. Out of the total 224, 150 are re-contesting candidates and 114 re-contesting MLAs. Of this, 48 candidates have criminal cases pending against them.

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Janata Dal (Secular) have also re-nominated several candidates with criminal cases. Out of 111 re-contesting BJP candidates analyzed by the poll watchdog, 30 have criminal cases pending against them. This accounts for 27 per cent of the 184 candidates analyzed by the ADR.

In the case of JDS, 17 out of 48 re-contesting candidates have criminal cases. Nine candidates are accused in serious criminal cases. This does not give a full picture of the criminal background of all the candidates in the fray since the ADR preliminary analysis covered only the 498 candidates. They do not include the third list of candidates announced by the BJP and the second list of the JDS.

The ADR analysis said that a large number of the re-contesting candidates were involved in serious criminal cases like attempt to murder, kidnapping, dacoity, assault against women etc. As many as 23 Congress candidates have the criminal case tag.

Congress MLA, K Vijayanand Shivashankarappa, who got the ticket to contest the election from Hungund, is an accused in an attempt to murder case. He also has two charges related to criminal intimidation, one charge related to voluntarily causing hurt to extort money and another charge related to voluntarily causing hurt with dangerous weapons.

Party’s Siruguppa MLA B M Nagaraj was also charged with serious cases, including attempt to murder and dacoity. However, the party denied him ticket this time and filed B Muralikrishna in his place. The Congress was in two minds in giving ticket to M A Harris after his son was involved in an assault case.

Though Harris had tendered an open apology, his name was not included in the first list released by the Congress high command. However, he was accommodated in the second list released on April 22 to contest the election from Shanthinagar.

The outgoing Assembly had five MLAs involved in attempt to murder cases. Apart from the two Congress MLA, one MLA each belonging to the BJP, JDS and BSRC are accused in attempt to murder cases. The BJP has re-nominated Dattatraya Patil Revoor, who has three criminal cases, including attempt to murder pending against him.

Eleven MLAs have cases registered against them under the Prevention of Corruption Act.The party-wise distribution is Congress 3, BJP 4, 1 each of BSRC, KJP and KMP and independent 1. 

The BJP list contains several tainted leaders against whom action was taken when it was in power last time. They include Somashekara Reddy (Bellary City), who is facing charges of offering bribe to Justice Pattabhiram of the Hyderabad CBI court in order to get bail for his brother and mining baron Janardhan Reddy and two former ministers K Subramanya Naidu (Shivajinagar) and Murugesh Nirani (Bilgi).

While Naidu and his son were arrested in connection with a land-grabbing case during the BJP’s previous tenure, Nirani, who held the medium and large-scale industries portfolio during BS Yeddyurappa's tenure as chief minister, was caught for pilfering electricity. His sugar factory was seized by the then government.

The ADR preliminary analysis showed that all major political parties continue to give tickets to candidates with criminal and graft cases. The election watchdog has urged all political parties to refrain from giving tickets to candidates with serious criminal background and to take a strong stand against misuse of money power, bribing of voters and distribution of freebies.

The election watchdog has also demanded that political parties should move towards transparency and disclose the criteria for selection of candidates during elections.

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