Tamil Nadu not bereft of tainted candidates
Syed Ali Mujtaba
Chennai May 12, 2009: There are considerable percentage of candidate in Tamil Nadu that have criminal charges according to a report released by Tamil Nadu Election Watch (TNEW), a voluntary organization that screened the profiles of the candidates contesting the 15th Lok Sabha election from this southern Indian state.
The report reveals that 33 candidates belonging to major political parties have criminal charges. Vellore and Ramanathapuram is termed as 'red alert constituencies' as both have five and three candidates respectively who had criminal backgrounds.
After the perusal of the 378 affidavits it was found that 33 candidates had criminal charges 14 of them serious in nature, said Kris G Dev releasing the TNEW report on Monday, May 11, 2009.
One candidate from Tiruvannamalai had 11 cases that include attempt to murder, causing hurt by dangerous weapons or means and promoting enmity between different groups, Dev pointed out.
Tamil Nadu’s Chief Electoral Officer Naresh Gupta had earlier announced that all affidavits of the candidates would be hosted on the commission’s website but it never happened and many leading candidates’ affidavits were missing, Dev said.
There are actually 822 candidates in the fray in Tamil Nadu but TNEW could get the affidavits of only 378 candidates.
The TNEW organizer lamented about the hardship they had to face getting record of the assets and criminal charges against some of the candidates. In many offices, we were asked to pay Rs. 20 to get copies of the affidavits.
According to the TNEW report there are 63 crorepatis (milliners) contesting the parliamentary elections from Tamil Nadu.
The TNEW acknowledged the voluntary support it received from a number of NGOs, volunteers, research scholars and students from various institutions who came forward to support the data entry and compiling activity.
The purpose of this report is to make public the past record of the candidates and to enlighten them about the assets, liabilities and criminal background of the candidates. Tamil Nadu goes to poll on Wednesday May 13, 2009.
Syed Ali Mujtaba is a working journalist based in Chennai. He can be contacted at syedalimujtaba@ yahoo.com