The 16th Kerala Legislative Assembly will be packed with criminals if either of the two principal contenders for power gets a majority in the Assembly in the 16 May election.
An analysis of affidavits filed before the Election Commission by candidates along with their nominations shows that 91 percent of the 83 candidates fielded by the Congress that heads the ruling United Democratic Front (UDF) and 75 percent of the 89 candidates of the Communist Party of India (Marxist), which heads the Opposition Left Democratic Front (LDF), have criminal cases pending against them.
The CPM candidates top the list with 617 cases. The total number of cases pending against 76 Congress candidates is 84. The Bharatiya Janata Party, which is making a strong bid to open its account in the assembly this time, and its main ally, the Bharath Dharma Jana Sena (BDJS) has 152 cases pending against their candidates.
The present Assembly has 48 percent of the MLAs with criminal cases pending against them. According to Election Watch Kerala, 67 MLAs of the 140 members had declared themselves that they were facing various criminal cases in courts and police stations across the state.
Of these, 12 have declared serious IPC charges like attempt to murder, attempt to commit culpable homicide, graft, assault cases and others against them. All the major parties have MLAs with pending criminal cases against them. They include 23 Congress MLAs, 21 CPM, eight Indian Union Muslim League (IUML) and five Communist Party of India MLAs. The BJP, which did not make it to the Assembly, had topped the list of major political parties in the 2011 Assembly polls with 47 candidates facing criminal charges.
The list of cases pending against the candidates was prepared by Chief Minister Oommen Chandy following Opposition leader V S Achuthanandan’s allegation that Chandy and his colleagues in his 21-member ministry alone had 131 cases pending against them.
He said that the total number of cases pending against the 140 candidates fielded by UDF was only 106 cases, while the LDF candidates are grappling with a total of 685 cases. Chandy claimed that there was no case pending against him in any court in the state.
The list shows that Achuthanandan and the other chief ministerial prospect of the CPM Pinarayi Vijayan have 17 cases pending against them. Achuthanandan has declared six cases in the affidavit. Five of these are related to defamation and one was related to an agitation in front of the Secretariat.
The nonagenarian leader has not included a case related to illegal allotment of 2.33 acres of land in Kasargod district to one of his close relatives during his term as chief minister registered by the Vigilance and Anti-Corruption Bureau. The FIR filed by the Vigilance had slapped on him charges of conspiracy, cheating and destruction of evidence.
Vijayan, who is currently the politburo member of the CPM, has 11 cases registered against him, including the SNC Lavalin case pending before a CBI court. Viyayan is seventh accused in the case, which related to loss of Rs 373 crores caused to the state in a deal he initiated with the Canadian company for the renovation of three hydro-electric plants during his term as Electricity Minister in 2006.
Journalist-turned CPM candidate at Azhikode in Kannur district M V Nikesh Kumar has the maximum number of 57 cases against him. Majority of the cases against Nikesh, who co-owns the Reporter TV channel, pertain to cheque dishonour.
Kadakampally Surendran, who is contesting the election as the CPM candidate at Kazhakuttam in Thiruvananthapuram district, follows him with 45 cases. The third position is occupied by A N Shamsheer, the party’s candidate at Thalassery with 35 cases.
The other CPM candidates who have more number of cases against them include K K Lathika (Kuttiadi-32 cases), V Sivankutty (Nemom-31), V Salim (Aluva–26), Binoy Kurien (Peravoor-25), Antony John (Kothamangalam-24), A A Rashid (Aruvikkara-22), E P Jayarajan (Mattannoor-21) and M Swaraj (Thripunithura-20).
Two CPM candidates are involved in murder cases. Party’s Udumbumchola (Idukki district) candidate M M Mani is an accused in the murder of Anchery Baby, a Youth Congress leader, in 1982. The case was registered after he made a statement in 2012 claiming that his party had prepared a list of 13 political opponents to be eliminated. The subsequent investigations by the police revealed that four murders that occurred in Idukki had links to this statement.
T V Rajesh, the CPM candidate at Kalliaserry in Kannur district, is an accused in the case of murder of Muslim Students Front activist Ariyil Shukoor. The CBI has arraigned him as 33rd accused in the chargesheet filed in the court. He has been accused along with CPM Kannur district secretary P Jayarajan of being part of a conspiracy hatched by the party activists to eliminate Shukoor for allegedly waylaying the vehicle in which the duo travelled.
The CPM had planned to field Jayarajan also in one of the constituencies in Kannur but dropped the move after court restrained him from entering Kannur district while granting him bail in connection with the murder of RSS activist Kathiroor Manoj.
The CPM candidate facing suicide abetment case is James Mathew. James, who is representing Taliparampa in the current constituency, was arrested by the police on the charge of abetting the suicide of a school teacher, based on a suicide note left behind by him.
Majority of the cases pending against the Congress candidates are related to corruption and political violence. Excise and Port Minister K Babu, who is seeking re-election from Thrippunithura in Ernakulam district has four cases pending against him with regard to corruption in the construction of a new airport at Kannur and reduction of license fee for bar hotels.
Revenue Minister Adoor Prakash is facing two cases of corruption with regard to the allotment of ration depots. Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC) president V M Sudheeran had opposed tickets to the two ministers, but relented under pressure from the chief minister.
A Congress candidate with a serious criminal case pending against him is K Sudhakaran. He was arrested for his alleged involvement in the attempt to murder Kannur CPM Secretary E P Jayarajan in April 1995. Sudhakaran, a former minister, is contesting the election this time from Uduma in Kasargod district.
Many ministers belonging to the party’s allies in the UDF are also grappling with various cases. Three ministers belonging to the Indian Union Muslim League (IUML) and two of the Kerala Congress (M) are facing graft cases. Kerala Congress (M) leader K M Mani, who stepped down from the ministry following bribe charges levelled against him by the bar owners, is seeking re-election at Pala in Kottayam district.
The list shows that majority of the cases faced by candidates of all the three combinations are related to political violence. The steady rise in the number of candidates with criminal cases shows that the cult of political violence is spreading fast in Kerala.
It was earlier confined to the northern district of Kannur, where muscle power started driving politics after the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) emerged as a force to be reckoned with in the eighties. The Hindutva outfit’s attempt to penetrate into CPM’s pocket boroughs, known as party villages, made brutal murders a routine affair in the district.
More than 200 people have lost their lives in the crossfire between the two in the last three decades. The parties sponsor not only killings but also protect the killers and, if they are convicted, their families too. BJP and the CPM have been accusing each other of promoting political violence.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi sought to make political violence as an issue in the election by referring to the political killings going unabated in the state in his first election rally at Palakkad on Friday. He alleged that the CPM was targeting his party activists as they were unable to counter the party ideologically.
CPM state secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan has denied the involvement of the party in the violence. However, the murder cases pending in the name of the party candidates and the conviction of several party activists and leaders in political murder cases in the last few years disprove disprove his claim.
Updated Date: May 09, 2016 15:06 PM