All the major parties — the Trinamool Congress, CPM and the Congress — have fielded them.
While Trinamool has fielded 10 candidates with criminal background, the Congress has fielded five and the CPM at least 12 such people.
For instance, Bagga Rao, a Trinamool candidate from Ward 27, has at least 12 cases of extortions and abetment of suicide pending against him. “A couple of months ago, he was arrested on extortion charges. He is a very notorious scrap mafia operating in Kharagpur rail yard. In last one year, at least 12 cases under Section 107 of IPC have been filed against him,” said a senior police officer.
According to the local police officers, Bagga used to be one of the closest associates of Ram Babu, the most notorious mafia and gangster of Kharagpur. Bagga, however, switched to Trinamool camp for getting tickets to contest the poll. “Ram Babu continues to remain with CPM,” added the officer.
Bagga blames his political opponent Iswar Rao, who is contesting as an Independent candidate, for the pending cases against him. “All the 12 cases filed against me are small one. Only two cases are serious, but is the result of the conspiracy of Iswar Rao. Iswar Rao is still with Ram Babu,” said Bagga. “Iswar Rao has over 10 murder cases registered against him and now he is trying to malign my image,” he added.
The local unit of the Trinamool Congress, however, said that they were not aware of Bagga’s criminal antecedents.
“We don’t have any knowledge about his criminal background. Nobody alerted us about it. We will check what kind of criminal cases are pending against him and then we will take our decision,” said Mrigen Maity, district president of West Midnapore unit of Trinamool.
Another Trinamool candidate Debashish Choudhury alias Munmuna has 42 cases against him, including those of murder and attempt to murder. He has been sent to judicial custody five times. “I was with the Communists till 1995. I left the CPM after MP Narayan Chowbey, who is my godfather was expelled from the party,” said Choudhury who is contesting from Ward 19.
Choudhury blames CPM for the criminal cases against him.
“After I left the party, CPM leaders slapped 42 cases against me, including those of murder,” said Choudhary. “I know this will not affect my political career, as people know I am with them. With this criminal profile, I won four times in civic elections,” he added. Choudhary had earlier joined the Congress but he left it in 2000 to join the Trinamool.
The CPM candidate contesting against Choudhary too has criminal background. At least 11 cases, including those of murder and criminal conspiracy are filed against Satyadeo Sharma. He, however, defends it saying, “If you are in politics, you will have criminal cases against you. In Kharagpur, every candidate has at least 2 criminal cases against him.” “Of the 11 cases, I have been acquitted in seven. The trial in four cases is still on and I know police will never be able to collect evidence against me,” added Sharma.
The Congress candidate in Ward 28, Ravi Sankar Pandey, is an infamous scrap mafia of Kharagpur rail yard. Significantly, Pandey is the chairman of the Congress-led Kharagpur Municipality. He, however, denies his involvement in scrap iron business. “I have three newspaper agencies. I don’t have any scrap iron business and the Opposition is trying to malign me,” said Pandey.
Local Congress leader Pradip Samanta also defends the criminal antecedents of his party leaders. “Without having criminal background, nobody can join politics. For being a good politician, the candidates must have criminal background. In several instances, it was found that the Opposition filed FIRs against several candidates to malign the party’s image,” said Samanta, who is district secretary of Congress in West Midnapore.
Meanwhile, State Election Commissioner Mira Pandey refused to comment about criminals contesting in Kharagpur civic polls.
“We have instructed the candidates to furnish all the personal details while they are filing their nomination,” Pandey said.
The Supreme court should act urgently and stop this fraud and threat on Indian voters. The court should ban all political parties supporting candidates with criminal backgrounds. Whether there is case or no case they have to wait until is cleared by the court. May be perhaps the Highest courts can give a relief to candidates by examining their cases before election. Please save us.