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31 pc MLAs Facing Criminal Cases
HP House: High on crime, low on education
Aditi Tandon
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 29
High on crime, low on education - that’s what many legislators of the newly elected Himachal assembly are. While 21 out of 68 assembly members (31 per cent) have criminal cases pending against them, some as serious as kidnapping, 11 MLAs (16 per cent) have not even completed their schooling. Even P.K. Dhumal, who will be sworn in as the Chief Minister tomorrow, faces criminal charge of defamation and of obstructing a public servant from discharge of duty.

Among matriculate MLAs, nine are from the BJP, including Harinarain Saini, who won from Nalagarh. Other matriculate BJP MLAs are Govind Sharma (Arki), Rikhi Kundal (Geharwin), Baldev Sharma (Nadaunta), Atma Ram (Rajgir), Tulsi Ram (Bharmaur) and Dile Ram (Nachan).

The Congress has one matriculate in Sohan Lal from the Kasumpti reserve segment. Rakesh Pathania, an independent, who won from Nurpur is also in the same boat. Interestingly, only two MLAs - both women - did not furnish details of their education. These include Congress stalwart Vidya Stokes and BJP Banikhet MLA Renu Chadha.

Although the BJP accounts for the bulk of matriculate MLAs, it also takes the cake in terms of MLAs with higher educational qualifications. Analysis of affidavit details of candidates, done with the help of the Himachal Election Watch, shows that there are 21 graduates and six postgraduates among winning BJP candidates. The Congress has 14 graduates and five postgraduates.

Coming to crime - out of 21 elected representatives facing criminal cases - 18 are from the BJP, with some of its MLAs like Sarveen Chaudhary from Shahpur and Krishan Kapoor from Dharamsala facing serious charges of kidnapping. The only woman MLA facing criminal charge is Renu Chadha of the BJP from Banikhet; she has cases of forgery pending against her.

Many of her colleagues are facing charges of criminal intimidation. These include I.D. Dhiman from Mewa (reserve segment); Satpat Satti from Una, who also has three cases of wrongful restraint against him; Ravinder Singh from Thural and Narender Bragta from Jubbal. All these BJP MLAs are facing charges under Section 506 of the IPC.

As many as 11 BJP MLAs are charged with wrongful restraint (341 IPC); these include Suresh Bhardwaj from Shimla, Randhir Sharma from Kotkehloor; Balbir Sigh from Gagret; Satpal Satti, Virender Kanwar from Kutlehar, among others. Rakesh Pathania, independent from Nurpur is facing the charge of wrongful restraint

Another disturbing point is that some MLAs have not disclosed PAN despite high assets and liabilities. Rakesh Pathania, whose assets are over Rs one crore is among them, so is Prem Singh, the winning Congress candidate from Renuka, who has not disclosed PAN, whereas he has a liability of over Rs 19 lakh.

Less PAN disclosures have happened in case of MLAs with high assets. Those with high liabilities have generally disclosed PAN. As regards the assets, the Himachal assembly will have 17 MLAs, whose assets is worth over Rs one crore, with Virbhadra Singh of the Congress worth over Rs 24 crore and Harinarain Saini of the BJP worth over Rs 9 crore. P.K. Dhumal is also in the “crorepati” list with assets worth over Rs 1 crore.

Here too the BJP scores over the Congress as it has 8 MLAs worth over Rs one crore; the Congress has seven, followed by two independents. On the liability scale are 20 MLAs, who have liabilities worth over Rs 10 lakh each. Among them, 11 are from the Congress; eight from the BJP while one is an independent MLA.

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