Friday, December 01, 2017

NGO on Gujarat polls: Congress has more candidates with criminal cases than BJP, 2002 riot cases "not verifiable"

By Our Representative
The Association of Democratic Reforms (ADR), a Delhi-based advocacy group, has said, its analysis suggests that BJP’s 22 (25%) out of 89 candidates and 31 (36%) out of 86 Congress candidates, who will be going to polls in the first phase of Gujarat state assembly elections on December 9, have declared criminal cases against themselves in their affidavits  before the Election Commission (EC).
It further says, 10 (11%) out of 89 candidates of BJP and 20 (23%) out of 86 candidates from Congress have declared serious criminal cases against themselves in their affidavits, adding, there are 21 (24%) out of 89 constituencies in the first phase of Gujarat assembly elections having three or more candidates with declared criminal cases. ADR terms them “red alert constituencies.”
Releasing its report, “Gujarat Assembly Elections 2017 Phase 1 Analysis of Criminal Background, Financial, Education, Gender and other Details of Candidates”, former Indian Institute of Management-Ahmedabad professor Jagdeep S Chhokar, who heads ADR, however, clarified to media, ADR does not propose to draw the attention to the EC about the sensitivity of these constituencies.
Chhokar said, “Our job is only to analyze facts as filed in affidavits by candidates before the EC, not beyond. It is left for others to decide on whether to take up them up with EC.” Asked whether the ADR has done any investigation on its own, Chhokar said, “We don’t do it.” The report, notably, is also mum about communal sensitivity of individual constituencies.
To a question by Counterview, on whether, when it comes to criminal cases, ADR has looked into which of the candidates had cases pertaining to the 2002 Gujarat communal riots, the top academic replied, “The affidavits mention only IPC cases, and not involvement in communal riots or any other incident, which, say, may have taken place in 1947.”
A disclaimer at the end of the report says, “All information in this report has been taken from the website of EC (http://affidavitarchive.nic.in/). ADR does not add or subtract any information, unless the EC changes the data.” Considering information (non-EC sources) elsewhere available as “unverified”, ADR underlines, “In particular, no unverified information from any other source is used.”
On the monetary status of the candidates, ADR says, among the major parties 76 (85%) out of 89 candidates from BJP, and 60 (70%) out of 86 candidates from Congress have declared assets worth more than Rs 1 crore. It adds, the average assets per candidate for 89 BJP candidates is Rs 10.7 crore”, and for 86 Congress candidates, it is Rs 8.46 crore.
The richest candidate, the report says, is Congress’ Intranil Rajguru, who is fighting against Gujarat chief minister Vijay Rupani from Rajkot West, and has assets are to the tune of Rs 143 crore. He is followed by Saurabh Patel of the BJP, fighting from Botad, with total assets worth Rs 123 crore, and Dhanjibhai Patel (Makson), BJP, who is fighting from Wadhwan, having assets worth Rs 113 crore. “Interestingly, the candidates with high assets also have declared high liabilities”, Chhokar said.
In all, ADR, in association with Gujarat Election Watch, has analyzed self-sworn affidavits of 923 out of 977 candidates, who are contesting in the first phase of Gujarat Assembly elections to be held on December 9, 2017. “There are 54 candidates who have not been analyzed as the affidavits of these candidates were either badly scanned or the complete affidavits were not available on the Election Commission website”, the report said.

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