Ahmedabad: Both the BJP and the Congress have fielded a number of candidates with criminal records in Gujarat. NDTV looks at these campaigns and their campaigns.
BJP’s Jeetu Vaghela is campaigning in Sheherkotda – one of the most communally sensitive constituencies in Ahmedabad. He is accused of participating in a communal riot that resulted in the death of three people, and has four criminal cases registered against him for rioting, arson and possessing illegal firearms.
In fact, he was arrested a month after the riots broke out and has spent two months behind bars. He however denies the charges.
“I used to deliver food there and help people. If this is a crime, then so be it. If they think this is a crime, then let them say so,” said the BJP candidate.
In fact, both the Congress and the BJP have given as many 35 tickets to candidates with criminal records of which at least four figured prominently during the riots.
These include Mayabehn Kodnani, sitting BJP MLA from Naroda, whose name figured in an FIR but was later withdrawn and Farooq Sheikh, sitting Congress MLA from Kalupur, charged with murder and rioting.
“The political parties are being shortsighted. They give tickets to gangsters, criminals and mafia people thinking they will win. But they don’t realise the damage being done to the society,” observed Professor Trilochan Shastri, Association of Democratic Reform.
In an election where both the parties are stressing on what they call the vulnerability factor, despite Election Commission guidelines and lofty political promises, it seems that the background of the candidates matters little.