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WITH A FEW QUESTIONS AND SUGGESTIONS Bihar Parties Hail Poll Panel Move on ‘Criminal’ Nominees

July 02, 2020 07:59 AM

Bihar Parties Hail Poll Panel Move on ‘Criminal’ Nominees
To be first state to go for elections following the Supreme Court’s February order

New Delhi:

Political parties in Bihar largely welcomed the Election Commission’s mandate asking them to provide reasons for nominating candidates with criminal cases, albeit with some misgivings, in assembly elections to be held later this year.

This will be the first state election where the EC will follow a Supreme Court order, which in February directed parties to give reasons as to why a candidate with criminal cases is chosen over a non-tainted one to contest an election. The parties have to spell out the reasons on their websites, on social media, in a national newspaper and a local language daily.

ET reported in March that EC had issued a self-declaration form, C7, with additional columns 2 and 3 for political parties to give such a declaration.

“As per the instructions of ECI, both the political parties as well as the candidates have to publish and intimate the authorities regarding the criminal antecedents, if any,” HR Srinivasa, chief election officer of Bihar, told ET. “We had written to all political parties earlier itself and now we are sending it to more political parties based in Bihar.”

Political parties though have demanded greater clarity from the EC regarding the move. “It’s a good initiative to stop criminalisation of politics. Our concern is that there should be some difference in cases related to serious crimes or in cases such as for violation of the election code of conduct,” state BJP president Sanjay Jaiswal said. “Earlier, too, every candidate was filing an affidavit mentioning all the cases against him.”

The leading opposition party in the state, RJD, also welcomed the move, but said the current election expenditure system must be done away with. “We have already followed it during the recent MLC elections,” Jagdanand Singh, state RJD president said. “However, if the EC is serious in reducing crime and corruption, it should end the election expenditure system. It is money which leads to unfair means in elections. Those in power may use money to register cases and bully the candidates.”

Congress leader and MLC Premchand Mishra said: “To take it a step further, EC should call a meeting of all political parties.” He said the EC should bring all political parties on board and ensure that if any party fields “a candidate with serious criminal charges, the nomination will be disqualified.”

“Congress has always been in favour of free and fair politics,” he said.

JDU spokesman Rajeev Ranjan said the party welcomed the initiative and that it “would adhere to the guideline in its full spirit”.

LJP president Chirag Paswan said he would have to study the requirement in detail before making an informed opinion, although he has always been “of the opinion that a person with criminal antecedents should never be in politics

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