(MENAFN - Khaleej Times) Earlier this week, spiritual guru Sri Sri Ravi Shankar wondered why political parties were giving election tickets to people with criminal records due to which, he said, India had become a land of scams.
Well, a glance at the list of the candidates for the December 13 first phase of the assembly polls in Gujarat shows that the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the Congress, the newly-formed Gujarat Parivartan Party (GPP) and even other challengers have suffered no qualms of conscience in fielding bad boys in the crucial battle of ballots.
Indeed, as many as 104 of the 482 contestants of different hues have already blotted their copybook with their names recorded in police files. They include 46 strange bedfellows who have been booked for serious criminal offences like murder, attempt to murder, kidnapping, extortion and robbery.
According to the National Election Watch, affidavits of the 482 nominees indicate that Sonia Gandhi's party has given the election ticket to 27 wheeler-dealers with a shady past, while 22 out of BJP's 87 candidates are law-breakers.
Even the GPP headed by former chief minister Keshubhai Patel, has 21 men who have been on the wrong side of the law, not to mention six from the Janata Dal-United, two from the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and one from the Bahujan samaj Party, all of whom also face grave charges.
BJP's Amit Shah, former junior Home Minister, has thrown his hat into the ring even though he is undergoing trial in two fake encounter
cases involving arms smuggler and underworld kingpin Sohrabuddin Sheikh and his criminal associate Tulsiram Prajapati.
Fisheries minister P Solanki (BJP), indicted by the Srikrishna Commission for his alleged involvement in the 1993 Mumbai communal riots, is known among his followers as 'bhai', a title used for an underworld don. He is allegedly involved in a Rs 4-billion fishing contract scam for which the state Governor has given sanctions for his prosecution.
JD-U's Chhotu Vasava has declared three charges of murder and one charge related to attempt to murder, and his son Mahesh, also of JD-U, is faced with two murder cases and one attempt-to-murder case.
Even in Mahatma Gandhi's birthplace in Porabandar district, ganglords are once again are in electoral fray. Kutiyana's NCP candidate Kandhal Jadeja, whose mother Santokben was called 'godmother', faces 18 cases of murder, attempted murder and illegal possession of firearms.
Kandhal himself is pitted against Karsan Odedara whose brother and another 'gangster' Bhima Odedara is now in jail as an accused in murder of Congress worker Mulu Modhwadia, a close aide of Gujarat Congress chief Arjun Modhwadia. vAt least 93 of the present 182 lawmakers in the assembly have firearm licences. With so many shady men now in the poll fray, the new House could resemble a rogues' gallery!