Uttar pradesh

U.P Assembly elections | Parties defend fielding candidates facing criminal cases

Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath and Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav. File

Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath and Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav. File

Helping the needy during the COVID-19 crisis stands out as one of the most common reasons stated by political parties in favour of selecting candidates in the Election Commission of India-mandated advertisements put out by them in Uttar Pradesh,justifying why they fielded people facing criminal cases.

An analysis of such documents of over 150 candidates of two major parties, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Samajwadi Party (SP), uploaded by them on their official websites, also shows that the parties fielding them have dismissed the criminal cases against their nominees as being “trivial” or “politically motivated.”

Take the case of Keshav Prasad Maurya of the BJP, Uttar Pradesh Deputy Chief Minister, who is contesting from Sirathu in Kausambhi. Mr. Maurya faces four FIRs, including one invoking the SC/ST Act. The BJP said he was implicated in these cases due “to political rivalry, hence he has been preferred over the other candidates.”

In the section where the ECI asked parties to state the reasons for selecting the candidate (achievements, merit and qualification and not just “mere winnability”), the BJP said Mr. Maurya was “extremely popular not only in his constituency but across the State.” Mr. Maurya’s name was forwarded by the district unit of the party on the basis of his merit, social work and work in the field of upliftment of people, the BJP said.

In several cases, the BJP cited the candidate’s relief work during COVID-19 to explain why he or she was picked, apart from the popularity and ground connect quotients. As per his document, Satyapal Singh Rathour, BJP MLA from Aliganj in Etah faces a 2012 FIR involving attempt to murder and Prevention to Damage to Public Property Act. “The case against him is of trivial nature,” said the party. Justifying why they picked Mr. Rathour over other candidates without criminal cases, the party said, it was keeping in view “services rendered by him especially during the COVID period.”

A similar explanation was given by Manindra Pal Singh, the BJP’s candidate in Siwalkhas, Meerut who faces 25 FIRs most of them involving charges of criminal intimidation and cheating. “His work during the COVID lockdown across the constituency,” said his declaration, underling that he held B.A, B.ed and LLB degrees.

While caste and communal narratives have taken over the election campaign, while referring to the way the government handled the COVID-19 crisis, Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath has on several occasions said the Opposition did nothing to help the needy and remained in “home isolation.” In response, Samajwadi Party president Akhilesh Yadav has said the BJP left people to die like “orphans.”

In their declarations, several SP candidates cited the work done by them during COVID-19 crisis. “Took medicine and made arrangement for food during Corona period,” said Sazil Ansari, its candidate in Bhojipura in Bareilly and former MLA who faces an FIR under criminal intimidation. Similarly, Sultan Baig, the SP’s nominee in Meerganj, Bareilly who faces four FIRs including the Gangsters Act, “took medicine and arrangement for food during Corona period.”

SP’s candidate in Aligarh Jafar Alam said he was himself on ground distributing food packets and door to door sanitisation, and helped poor and migrant labourers with food and shelter. Mohammad Adil from Meerut South said he even supplied oxygen to poor people and arranged beds and medicine in his locality.

Rajesh Yadav, the SP’s nominee in Katra, Shahjahanpur and two-time MLA, said he helped people during lockdown and pandemic, providing them transportation to reach their homes and providing essential commodities to people. In Sikandra Rao in Hathra, SP’s nominee Mahendra Kumar, who faces charges of murder, attempt to murder and relevant sections of the SC/ST Act, said he helps underprivileged with all his resources and “proactively came forward to help the needy in all possible times” during COVID-19 crisis.

The parties also offered good character certificates to their candidates in some cases. Ram Khiladi Yadav, who faces 10 FIRs and is contesting from Gunnaur in Sambhal, was described by the SP as “exquisite, highly qualified and diligent social worker and a lucid person.” “His might, admiration and a trustworthy demeanour proves his mettle as he has won thrice,” said the SP.

Alok Kumar Shakya, a former minister and SP candidate in Bhongaon, faces charges under criminal intimidation and the IT Act but the party he “had the quality of dependability, integrity and perseverance.” Similary, Rameshwar Singh Yadav from Aliganj was a “man of firm principles, who has always taken responsible decisions towards the benefit of people,” said the SP.

U.P. Minister and BJP leader Suresh Rana, who is contesting from Thana Bhawan in Shamli, was “popular due to his outstanding work for release of cane dues to farmers.” BJP MLA in Gola, Lakhimpur Kheri faces seven FIRs including two with charges under the Wildlife Protection Act 1972 and criminal intimidation. But for the BJP, the “case against him is of trivial nature.”

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Printable version | May 27, 2022 6:38:17 pm | https://www.thehindu.com/elections/uttar-pradesh-assembly/up-assembly-elections-parties-defend-fielding-candidates-facing-criminal-cases/article38325572.ece