Godmother part II
Mayawati's promise to end goonda raj has turned out to be hollow rhetoric
Pradeep Kapoor Lucknow
The BSP handed out tickets for the Lok Sabha polls to 16 candidates with criminal background. Mayawati failed to keep her much hyped promise made to the people of UP in the last election.
In May 2007, she had vowed to end goonda raj in UP. That was Mayawati's main poll plank on which she won the assembly elections. She had promised to send goons of the Samajwadi Party (SP) and even its top leadership to jail and restore law and order in the state. She had blamed her arch-rival, the SP, for the lawlessness in the state and patronising criminals.
Cutting across caste and religion, voters of UP believed she would deliver on her promises. Poll analysts feel this 'wave' won her a clear majority and she formed the government on her own, a unique phenomenon in UP politics since 1991.
Now all those promises have turned out to be empty rhetoric. The BSP list released on March 20 includes the names of 16 persons with criminal records and cases registered against them. Of them, at least eight are hardcore criminals who have been operating for the last few decades. Prominent among them are Mukhtar Ansari, DP Yadav, Rizwan Zaheer, Arun Kumar Shukla alias Anna, Girish Chandra, Rakesh Pande and Dhananjay Singh.
Even former SP leaders with criminal background, who had been accused in the state guest house case of June 2, 1995 where Mayawati had a miraculous escape after being attacked, have found a cosy place in the BSP. At that time, Mayawati had charged the then chief minister, Mulayam Singh Yadav, of hatching a conspiracy to kill her. This has remained a thorny issue of confrontation between the BSP and SP ever since.
Most of these BSP candidates with criminal background have defected from the SP. The reason is simple. The general tendency of criminals is to be on the right side of the government. Since Mayawati's government will be in power for three more years, those with criminal antecedents want to be with the ruling party to avoid arrest.
NCP leader, Ramesh Dixit, says that all commitments made by Mayawati in May 2007 have been conveniently ignored. The manner in which tickets have been given to criminals is "a sheer mockery of democracy". He hoped the people will give a befitting reply through the ballot by rejecting criminal candidates.
Former DG (Vigilance) of UP police, SM Nasim, says that the slogans, commitments and manifesto released during elections have been reduced to nothing but rhetoric. When it's time for implementation, the party in power forgets about the actions it has promised to take against the criminals. Ironically, winnability of a particular person has become a bigger criteria than eliminating criminals from the election process, says Nasim. People should create mass awareness against criminal candidates and ensure their defeat. "Political parties may give them tickets, but voters should reject them," he says.
Dauji Gupta, three-time mayor of Lucknow, condemned the manner in which criminal candidates have been fielded. People are against this repetitive pattern and why are the political parties ignoring the Vohra Committee recommendations while giving tickets to candidates with criminal records, he says. Recently, the Forum against Criminalisation of Politics was launched in Lucknow. The meeting, presided over by veteran journalist, Kuldip Nayar, was attended by prominent citizens including former DGs of UP police, Sri Ram Arun, IC Dwivedi and SM Nasim. They stressed on the need for preventing convicted persons from contesting elections. There was a proposal to launch a signature campaign to create awareness.
Commenting on such candidates contesting on the tickets of various parties, General (retd) Shankar Roy Choudhary, member of the National Election Watch Committee, said, "These reports indicate that political parties in certain parts of the country are fielding a large number of candidates with criminal records. Voters must study the records of candidates carefully and vote for honest individuals irrespective of party, caste or religion."