Samajwadi Party (SP) supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav is increasingly becoming vocal about the need for a Third Front government at the Centre. But in pursuit of that goal he is leaning on candidates with criminal antecedents.
About a dozen of the 77 candidates it has named for the general elections face criminal charges. The state has 80 Lok Sabha seats.
Atiq Ahmed, who is facing trial in 35 criminal cases including murder and had once been expelled by the SP, will be the party’s candidate for the Shravasti Lok Sabha seat in 2014.
Justifying his candidature, SP spokesman Rajendra Chowdhary had in December said, “He will win the seat. How can he be called a criminal until any of the allegations or charges is proved? He has not been convicted in any case.”
Former MP, Ahmed, 51, is on bail since February 2012. He has been preferred over Shakeel Ahmed, who had been nominated earlier, for his “winnablity” factor.
In the run up to the UP Assembly 2012 elections, a senior party leader had persuaded Mulayam to deny Ahmed an SP ticket, saying “he (Ahmed) would win, but he would make us loose many seats". But this time, Ahmed seemed to have prevailed over Mulayam.
Along with Ahmed, the party has given tickets to Arun Shankar Shukla, convicted-and-pardoned Mitrasen Yadav, Balkumar Patel, the brother of dreaded dacoit Dadua who was killed in a police encounter. It has also fielded Shivkanya Kushwaha, the wife of jailed former Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) minister Babu Singh Kushwaha.
Read: SP will play crucial role in govt formation at Centre, says Mulayam
Commenting the inclusion of such persons, Chowdhary said: “We are against criminalisation of politics. None of our candidates has been convicted. No one is a criminal until convicted.”
However, the candidature of these persons appears at odds with Mulayam’s election speeches and Third Front efforts.
“If someone says something hurtful or inciting, smile back and wave at them and pedal along talking about achievements of the SP government,” he said while flagging off a cycle rally.
He told the cyclists: “We have conquered Lucknow and it is Delhi’s turn now. Now play a major role in forming the next government at Delhi. Once we (United Front) installed a government at New Delhi, but it did not last because of conflicts between coalition partners.”
“This time we should reach such numbers that would make government work at the Delhi,” he said.
Chief minister Akhilesh Yadav said “this is now-or-never opportunity for us to grab power in New Delhi” and urged his party workers to publicise his government’s achievements in the state.
“The cycle (SP election symbol) would play a major role at Delhi,” he said.
Candidates with criminal backgrounds
Mitrasen Yadav (Faizabad): An affidavit submitted in 2009 shows he has 19 criminal cases against him, including 7 charges of attempt to murder. In 1966, he was sentenced to life for a double murder of two brothers. Was granted governor’s pardon in 1972.
Atiq Ahmed (Shravasti): Facing trial in 35 criminal cases, including murder. Was once expelled by the SP.
Arun Shankar Shukla (Unnao): Started off as a muscle man, became SP MLC in the early 90s. He has several criminal cases against him.
Narendra Bhaati (Gautam Budh Nagar): Faces attempt to murder and kidnapping charges. He was caught on camera for saying he got IAS officer Durga Shakti Nagpal suspended.
Premdas Katheria: Was named in a case of dacoity, according to 2009 Lok Sabha affidavit.
Chandrapal Singh Yadav (Jhansi): Attempt to robbery charge according to his 2004 affidavit.
Balkumar Patel (Banda): Brother of notorious dacoit Dadua who was killed in gunfight with the police during the Mayawati government.
Vinod Kumar alias Pandit Singh (Kaiserganj): His 2012 assembly polls affidavit shows 3 criminal cases are pending against him, including one causing death by negligence. Was once ousted from ministry for beating up a medical officer in Gonda.
Shivkanya Kushwaha (Ghazipur): Wife of the jailed former BSP minister Babu Singh Kushwaha. She herself is facing an inquiry into disproportionate assets case.
Rakesh Sachaan (Fatehpur): According to his 2009 affidavit, he faces 7 criminal cases against, including one attempt to murder and one kidnapping with intent of murder.
Ramkishun Yadav (Chandauli): Faces 10 criminal cases, including three attempt to murder charges.