M Tariq Khan , Hindustan Times
Lucknow, March 08, 2012
Crime doesn't pay – even in elections. Uttar Pradesh, which elected criminal candidates year after year, has finally put its foot down. Of the 901 tainted candidates trying their luck at the hustings, just 14 have managed to win. In 2007 elections, 122 such candidates were elected.
“The finalreport on criminal candidates is being prepared and will be released soon,” said former IPS officer IC Dwivedi, a member of the National ElectionWatch (NEW) that has been campaigning against criminalisation of politics.
Social activists and peoples' watch groups feel the credit goes to the voters and not
political parties, who, despite public posturing, had given tickets to tainted individuals
In the 2007 assembly elections, 28% candidates faced criminal charges. The figure
went up to 35 per cent in 2012. “Some parties did show a reluctance to field hardcore criminals. But that only led to the criminals floating their own parties,” said social worker A Mohd Idrees. Mafia dons Brijesh Singh, his archrival Prem Prakash Singh alias Munna Bajrangi and
Atiq Ahmad contested the elections from behind the bars. Singh contested from Sayiadraja constituency of Chandauli district on the ticket of PragatisheelManav Samaj Party. He pulled allstops, but lost by 2016 votes to Independent candidate Manoj Kumar. Bajrangi, who stood fromMariyahu assembly seat on Apna Dal ticket, too was defeated by Samajwadi Party nominee Shhradha Yadav.
The Apna Dal aspirant from Allahabad West constituency, Atiq Ahmad, lost to Pooja
Pal, wife of former BSP legislator Raju Pal. Atiq is a prime accused in Raju's murder.
Two dons, who enjoy a Robin Hood kind of image — Mukhtar Ansari and Raghu Raj
Pratap Singh alias Raja Bhaiyya — however managed a win. While Mukhtar won fromMau, Raja Bhaiyya, who has never lost an election, got re-elected from Pratapgarh's Kunda. Gang-lord Abhay Singh won from Goshaiganj on a Samajwadi Party ticket.