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An analysis of the affidavits of 923 candidates, out of the total 977 in fray for the first phase of Gujarat Assembly polls, showed that 137 candidates, accounting for around 15 per cent, were facing criminal cases, including serious charges such as murder, kidnapping and rape, according to two NGOs. The analysis has been carried out by the NGOs -- Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) and Gujarat Election Watch. It also showed that 78 of the 137 nominees are facing serious criminal cases. A party-wise analysis found that 10 out of 89 BJP candidates were facing serious criminal charges, while the Congress gave tickets to as many as 20 such candidates for the first phase of the polls, the report of the NGOs said today. These main political rivals were followed by eight candidates from the BSP, three from the NCP and one from the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), it said. "Though 977 candidates are in the fray for the 89 Assembly seats going to polls in the first phase on December 9, affidavits of 54 candidates could not be analysed as they were either badly scanned or incomplete," Pankti Jog of Gujarat Election Watch told reporters here. The analysis said that 137 candidates, out of 923 (15 per cent), have declared criminal cases against them. Of these 137 candidates, 78 candidates (eight per cent) were facing serious criminal cases such as murder, attempt to murder, kidnapping and rape. It also said that eight candidates were facing attempt to murder charge while three had been accused of kidnapping.
One was facing rape charge, Jagdeep Chhokar of the ADR said. Mahesh Vasava, son of former JD(U) MLA, Chhotu Vasava, has topped the chart with 24 cases against him, including two of murder and one of attempt to murder, the report said, adding that he was also facing charges related to dacoity, robbery, rioting, assault, theft and kidnapping, the report said. Vasava is fighting from Dediapada (ST) seat of Narmada district under the banner of the Bharatiya Tribal Party, floated by his father after a split within the JD(U) recently. He is followed by BJP candidate for Wankaner seat in Morbi district, Jitendra Somani, who is facing 13 criminal cases, including one related to attempt to murder. Congress candidate from Talala seat in Gir Somnath district, Bhagwan Barad, is facing four criminal cases, including that of dacoity, theft and assault, it said. The analysis also carved out 21 'Red Alert Constituencies', where three or more candidates with criminal cases are contesting the polls. The first phase of the two-stage Assembly polls will be held on December 9 and the second phase on December 14. The counting of votes is scheduled on December 18.