With nearly half the state assembly members facing serious criminal charges, Wednesday's landmark Supreme Court judgement to keep convicted leaders out of power has sent legislators in Uttar Pradesh into a tizzy.
"If the Supreme Court verdict is implemented in toto, the strength
of the assembly will go down by half," a senior leader of the ruling Samajwadi Party (SP) said, requesting anonymity because of the sensitiveness of the issue.
The records show that of the 403 legislators in the country's most populous state that sends the largest number of 80 MPs to Parliament, 189 have serious criminal cases - ranging from robbery, murder, rape to kidnapping and extortion - pending against them. Of all the cases pending, 194 invite a minimum two-year prison term.
An analysis of the affidavits submitted by the MLAs to the Election Commission, 12 cases have been registered under the provisions of Section 153 (A) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) for inciting communal violence, 21 under the Section 395 of the IPC for dacoity (armed robbery), four of rape, nine of loot, 15 of kidnapping and murder, 95 of attempted murder and 38 cases of murder.
It is for this reason that the apex court judgement has sent a chill down the spines of most political parties in the state.
According to the records, of the 189 legislators facing serious criminal charges, a staggering 111 are from the SP, 29 from the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), 25 from the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and 13 from the Congress. The remaining 11 are either independents or belong to regional parties.
One of the top offenders is SP legislator from Bikapur Mitrasen Yadav with 36 cases pending against him, of which 14 are of murder. Following him closely is Independent legislator from Sakaldiha Sushil Singh who has 20 cases against him, of which 12 are of murder.
Another SP legislator, Ramveer Singh, who won from the Jasrana seat, has 18 cases registered against him. Mafia don-turned-politician Mukhtaar Ansari, who won the 2012 state assembly polls on Qaumi Ekta Dal ticket, has 15 serious cases slapped against his name.
The reaction of political parties to the apex court judgement has been guarded.
Welcoming the verdict, BJP state unit chief Laxmikant Bajpai said that it "would go a long way in cleansing the political system".
"The political parties have so far paid lip service to efforts to weed out criminals, but I am sure that now they will be more careful in selecting candidates."
He, however, cautioned that in many instances cases slapped against politicians were "more political than criminal" in nature.
State general secretary of the SP CP Rai termed the apex court judgement "idealistic and utopian".
"It is a revolutionary move but is fit for ideal societies and not for those where police is infamous for slapping false cases, killing people in fake encounters and dances to the tunes of their political masters," he added.
Congress leader Rita Bahuguna Joshi termed the judgement "path breaking" and that will go a long way in "cleaning up the political system".
The Bahujan Samaj Party refused to comment, saying the party "required further, serious and threadbare study of the judgement".
According to an analysis by UP Election Watch, while in the 2007 state assembly polls the number of tainted and criminal legislators was 35 percent, it has risen dangerously to 47 percent in the current assembly.
In the past, two ministers in successive governments - Amarmani Tripathi and Anand Sen - were convicted by courts on murder charges.
Recently, Independent legislator from Kunda and cabinet minister in the Akhilesh Yadav government, Raghuraj Pratap Singh aka Raja Bhaiyya, had to quit following his name cropping up in the murder case of a police officer.
Among the members of parliament from Uttar Pradesh, former chief ministers Mulayam Singh Yadav and Mayawati face charges of possessing assets disproportionate to their known income.
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