Bhubaneswar: As many as five lawmakers from Odisha including two ministers have cases pertaining to crimes against women, according to the Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR), a non-profit election watchdog, report released today.
Among the five, four are from the ruling Biju Janata Dal (BJD) and one is from Independent party. While the BJD has 118 MLAs in the 147-member Assembly, the Congress and the BJP have 15 and 10 legislators respectively.
The report assumes significance as politicians in the country are facing criticism for increasing incidents of rapes of minors especially after an 8-year-old girl was gang-raped and killed in Jammu and Kashmir’s Kathua district.
Odisha has five MLAs who have declared cases of crime against women same as Andhra Pradesh. Maharashtra has the highest number of MPs and MLAs (12) followed by West Bengal (11).
The Delhi-based think-tank further stated that as many as 37 cases of crime against women were lodged against five Odisha lawmakers.
Nrusingha Charan Sahu, Minister of state for commerce and transport and Pratap Jena, who holds two important portfolios such as Law and Health and Family Welfare, have charges related to assault or criminal force to women with intent to outrage her modesty (IPC Section – 354) among others, the report said.
Charges related to word, gesture, or act intended to insult the modesty of a woman (IPC Section – 509), charges related obscene acts and songs (IPC Section -294) were framed against Bhubaneswar (Central) MLA Mohanty.
Mahakud, the richest MLA in the State, is booked under many such cases like obscene acts and assault or criminal force to woman with intent to outrage her modesty, it added.
So far, none of the five has been convicted.
The report is based on an analysis of 4,845 out of 4,896 election affidavits of current MPs and MLAs. This includes 768 out of 776 affidavits of MPs and 4,077 out of 4,120 MLAs across the country.
With regard to the number of such candidates given election tickets by parties, Maharashtra tops the chart with 65, followed by Bihar with 62 and West Bengal with 52 candidates.
Among the political parties, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has the highest number of MPs/MLAs – 12, followed by the Shiv Sena with seven and the Trinamool Congress with six MPs/MLAs who have declared cases related to crimes against women.
As many as 47 candidates with declared cases related to crimes against women were given tickets by the BJP. The second highest number of candidates – 35 – who had declared cases related to crimes against women were given tickets by the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), followed by 24 candidates from the Congress.
The ADR and National Election Watch (NEW) demanded that candidates with criminal background should be debarred from contesting elections, political parties should disclose criteria for selecting candidates and that cases pending against MPs and MLAs should be fast-tracked.