Ahmedabad, Dec 4 (UNI) At least 117 of the 668 candidates contesting the first phase of the Gujarat Assembly elections have criminal cases pending against them.
Addressing mediapersons here today, spokesperson for Gujarat 'Election Watch 2007' Jagdeep S Chhokar also a retired Professor of IIM-A, said the candidates with criminal records comprise about 17.5 per cent of those in the fray for the first phase.
In the 2002 Assembly election, the scene was much worse as nearly 140 candidates had criminal records.
''The motive behind the efforts is to create awareness among the voters even in the remotest areas to know the background about the candidates you are choosing to rule the state,'' he said.
He said Indian National Congress (INC) leads all the parties with 28 out of 81 candidates having criminal records followed by BJP with 16 out of the 87 candidates while Janata Dal (U) with six out of 18 candidates and Bahujan Samaj Party, which has fielded 87 candidates has put up 15 candidates with pending criminal cases.
Mr Chhokar said the type of cases included murder, attempt to murder under IPC sections 302 and 307, threatening to kill, kidnapping and other crimes like dacoity, assault, rioting, arson and jail break and financial fraud.
Both the leading parties--BJP and Congress have put up nine sitting MLAs each with pending criminal cases, he added.
He said of the 44 BJP and Congress candidates with pending criminal cases contesting the election this time, 20 contested the election in 2002 assembly election also.
However, nine of these 20 candidates have declared a lesser number of pending criminal cases in the affidavits submitted in 2007.