Despite universal condemnation of the criminalisation of politics in recent years, nearly all the political parties involved in the upcoming assembly polls have fielded candidates facing serious criminal cases.
Two sitting Jalgaon legislators filed their nominations from jail on Friday. Suresh Jain of the Shiv Sena and Gulabrao Deokar of the NCP are key accused in a housing scam and were arrested two years ago.
The Aurangabad bench of the Bombay high court refused to grant them interim bail for the period of elections.
NCP’s sitting MLA from Pachora, Dilip Wagh, was arrested on charges of rape three years ago. Wagh and his assistant were accused of raping a woman on the pretext of a job.
The NCP had suspended Wagh following his arrest. However, given his political clout and chances of winning, the party has allotted him a seat.
“The cases against most of them are not proved yet. Some have been framed with political motive. It would be unjust to call them criminal unless the cases are proved,” said NCP spokesperson Nawab Malik.
The NCP has fielded Deepak Mankar from Kasba Peth in Pune. Earlier with the Congress, Mankar was suspended five years ago after being arrested in a land grab case.
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has fielded Vijaykumar Gavit from Nandurbar and Anil Gote from Dhule City, both accused of corruption.
Gavit’s clout spreads over at least four constituencies in Nandurbar and Dhule. Therefore, the party could not afford to deny him a seat despite earlier admonishing him in the assembly over corruption.
Telgi scam accused Gote was also inducted in the party hours before filing his nomination.
The BJP’s Sawantwadi candidate Rajan Tali was an accused in a 2002 murder case. BJP leader and leader of opposition in the assembly Eknath Khadse said his party would suspend the tainted leaders if they are found guilty in the cases.
The Shiv Sena has put its weight behind Geeta Gawli, the daughter for former gangster Arun Gawli, currently in jail in a murder case. Geeta is contesting from Byculla, which her father earlier represented.
Ajit Ranade, of the Association for Democratic Reforms, said they will appeal to voters to defeat candidates with a criminal background.