The BSP on Friday appeared to take the lead on this front when its chief Mayawati announced her list of candidates for Uttar Pradesh, which includes at least eight candidates with known criminal background. The list is a veritable whos who of those people who are better known in police circles than elsewhere.
Mayawatis list included Arun Kumar Shukla, a history sheeter from Lucknow who has been fielded from Unnao, DP Yadav from Badaun, Dhananjay Singh from Jaunpur and former MP Rizwan Zaheer from Shravasti. Sons of historysheeter Hari Shankar TiwariBishm Shankar Tiwari from Sant Kabir Nagar and Vinay Shankar Tiwari from Gorakhpur also figured in the list. So did the Ansari brothers, Afzal and Mukhtar, well known in eastern UP, who have been fielded from Ghazipur and Varanasi.
The BSP, however, though is not the only party pushing the case for candidates with criminal background in Parliament. The Samajwadi Party too has its share of such candidates. Six candidates fielded by the party have criminal antecendents. The Congress as well as the BJP too have such candidates, although both these parties maintain that there is a difference in the candidates they have fielded as the cases against them are politically motivated.
The presence of members with criminal background is a matter of concern raised repeatedly in different fora. Lok Sabha speaker Somnath Chatterjee last month had expressed concern over parliaments inability to bring down the number of such MPs. If people with a criminal background are entering Parliament, then certainly the political party that is giving them ticket is responsible he had said.
According to data collacted by Ahmedabad based Association for Democratic Rights, there has as many as nine MPs with criminal antecendents from UP and Bihar alone in the outgoing Lok Sabha. As far as parties are concerned, the Congress, BJP and RJD have three such MPs. The Samajwadi Party, Communist Party of India-Marxist, Bahujan Samaj Party and Lako Janshakti Party each have 2 and Janata Dal-Secular, CPI, and Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam have one candidate each.
It has further stated that in terms of seriousness of charges and highest number of cases, members from Uttar Pradesh have stolen a march ahead of other states. The SP MP from Phulpur, Atiq Amed has 37 cases against him, including 7 for murder and 6 for attempt to murder against him. Along with Pappu Yadav, RJD MP from Bihar, he spent much of his five year tenure in jail than Parliament.