Candidates facing serious criminal charges swept the Uttarakhand assembly elections results for which were announced on Saturday.
Many of them, including BJP’s Ganesh Joshi who allegedly hit police horse Shaktiman during a protest last year, won with thumping margins.
With over 12 cases and 11 serious charges, BJP’s Arvind Pandey was leading the pack. He defeated Congress’ Rajendra Pal Singh by 14,106 votes from Gadarpur in Udham Singh Nagar district.
Pandey was charged with inciting communal tensions, rioting, murder, dacoity and illegal payment in connection with poll.
Joshi won the Mussoorie seat by defeating Congress’ Godavari Thapli by 12,077 votes. He is facing serious charges like criminal intimidation and voluntarily causing hurt to deter public servant (police horse) from his duty as well as under animal cruelty act.
Sahdev Pundir of the BJP defeated Congress state unit chief Kishore Upadhyay by 18,863 votes on Sahaspur seat. He has three cases against him with at least four serious charges, including assault of woman with intent to outrage her modesty and rioting.
Rajkumar Thukral, another BJP candidate with criminal background, won the election from Rudraprur. He defeated Congress’ Tilak Raj Behar by 24,771 votes. He is facing four serious charges including those related to murder and attempt to murder.
Congress’ Adesh Chauhan, who has three serious charges including deliberate act intended to outrage religious feelings and promoting enmity on grounds of religion, won Jaspur seat by 4,204 votes against BJP’s Shailendra Mohan Singhal.
Three-time MLA Dinesh Agarwal of the Congress, however, lost from the Dharampur to BJP’s Vinod Chamoli by 10,953 votes.
Agarwal has four serious charges related to forgery, provoking breach of peace, and punishment for rioting on his name.
According to an analysis of self-sworn affidavits of candidates by the Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) and Uttarakhand Election Watch (NEW), 91 of total 637 candidates in the state had declared criminal cases against them. Of these, at least 54 of them have serious criminal cases against them.
Moreover, at least 10 ‘red alert’ constituencies in Uttarakhand had three or more candidates with criminal cases contesting elections. Of these four –Dharampur, Raipur, Rishikesh and Mussoorie – fall in Dehradun district and three in Udham Singh Nagar.
The BJP topped the list with 19 of its 70 candidates having criminal cases against them, followed by the Congress (17 out of 70 candidates). As many as 32 of 261 Independent candidates have criminal cases against them.
“People hardly study or even know of criminal background of their candidates, which reflects in the results,” said Bhim Singh Rawat, a retired schoolteacher.