Narendra Mohanty, the Aam Aadmi Party candidate from Kandhamal, has 28 criminal cases against him. (Arabinda Mahapatra/HT photo)
The Aam Aadmi Party's (AAP's) stand on honesty and transparency is no secret, but a candidate it has fielded for the 2014 polls in Odisha has 28 criminal cases against him.
The number of cases against Narendra Mohanty (the NaMo of Odisha) is highest among the 98 candidates in the fray for the first phase of elections, according to Odisha Election Watch, a body compiling and disseminating candidates' affidavits.
Odisha has 21 Lok Sabha seats. Polls in 11 of them, including Mohanty's seat Kandhamal, will be held in the first phase on April 10.
The AAP is, however, proud of its NaMo. The party's Odisha convenor, Nishikanta Mohapatra, said Monanty was a social activist fighting for tribal rights, spearheading anti-liquor campaigns and was also known for his stand against fake police encounters in Kandhamal, one of the most backward constituencies in the country.
"In Kandhamal, where innocent tribals are tortured by police in the name of tackling Maoists, Mohanty has been their saviour and is in the forefront of fighting state atrocities against innocent people.
"By giving him a ticket, AAP has already stood for commoners' right to fight state injustice and police atrocities," Mohapatra said.
Tribals (53.58%) and Dalits (15.75%) account for the majority of Kandhamal's population. Most of the Dalits here are Christians. In 2008, the district witnessed an anti-Christian riot that left 36 dead following the murder of Hindu leader Swami Laxmanananda Saraswati.
In the fray against Mohanty from Kandhamal are ruling party Biju Janata Dal's Hemendra Kumar Singh, a scion of Nayagarh royal family, and veteran Congress leader Harihar Haran.
The cases against Mohanty include three murder cases (Section 302 of IPC), an attempt to murder (Section 307 of IPC), and a dacoity and murder (Section 396 IPC).
But Mohanty said the cases against him were not on the basis of FIRs by individuals, but on police information. "These are used by the state for suppression and repression of the masses."