Raipur, Oct 17 (UNI) Chhattisgarh's ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and other main political parties did not hesitate in fielding candidates with criminal records in the 2003 assembly polls though the then ruling Congress and Communist Party of India steered clear of providing tickets to such persons.
State Election Office sources told UNI here today that, in the previous hustings, the Congress was the sole party to field ''clean'' nominees in all 90 seats. That was not the case with the BJP, Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), Communist Party of India (Marxist) and Nationalist Congress Party (NCP).
The saffron party had also fielded candidates in 90 constituencies but 14 of them stood charged of attempt to murder or other crimes, the BSP fielded nominees in 54 places but four had criminal cases registered against them, the CPI(M) fielded candidates in only six seats but three had cases registered against them while the NCP fielded 89 nominees including ten with criminal cases.
Among smaller parties' candidates, 22 of 218 were having criminal background while 21 of 254 independents were named in criminal cases.
The BJP's Chhattisgarh unit General Secretary and spokesman Dharam Kaushik denied that his party accords importance to nominees with criminal background.
''The BJP hesitates from fielding such candidates and will exercise full caution this time as well. In the previous elections, the BJP nominees in question had cases registered against them during various agitations over public problems. Technically, those may be criminal cases but in politics one has to do such things. The Congress was in power then,'' he claimed to UNI.
On the other hand, Congress spokesman Rajesh Bissa said that the Congress would not field candidates with criminal background.
UNI AS-AC 1821