A majority -31- of the newly-elected 48 Lok Sabha members from Maharashtra have a criminal background and are also multi-millionaires with assets ranging from a minimum of Rs.99 lakh to Rs.66 crore.
The 31 Lok Sabha members who belong to the Shiv Sena, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Swabhimani Paksha – all allies – and the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) have various types of criminal records.
The number of criminal cases filed against the candidates range from just one to 13, according to their affidavits filed along with their nomination papers with the Election Commission.
Shrirang Barne, the Shiv Sena MP from Maval, did not manage to complete his schooling. But he is the richest among the lot with assets of around Rs.66 crore.
Two of the seniormost BJP leaders – Nitin Gadkari from Nagpur and Gopinath Munde from Beed – have four and three criminal cases registered against them.
Partywise, the Shiv Sena leads the list with 15 of its 18 elected members admitting to having some criminal cases registered against them.
The BJP comes next, with 13 of its 23 members having a criminal past.
Swabhimani Paksha’s Raju Shetty – an ally of the BJP-Shiv Sena – who was elected from Hathkanangle, also figures in the list.
He has been an aggressive farmer activist since several years and this is his second term as a parliamentarian. The first one was as an independent.
From the NCP, two of its new Lok Sabha members have criminal records, according to their affidavits filed with the poll panel.
Among the MPs with a criminal background, the BJP also has the maximum number with a good academic background – eight are graduates and one – Kirit Somaiya from Mumbai North East – has a doctorate, the highest qualification in the state among the current crop of MPs.
Three of the BJP parliamentarians have completed school education (up to Class 10), one has studied till junior college (Class 12), while one – Gopal Shetty, who defeated Sanjay Nirupam of the Congress in Mumbai North – never completed schooling.
Six of the Shiv Sena’s newly elected Lok Sabha members – of the 15 with criminal records – are at least graduates. Three completed junior college (Class 12) and three completed school (Class 10).
The educational background of Shiv Sena MPs Rahul Shewale from Mumbai South-Central and Shivajirao Adhal from Shirur was categorised in the ‘others’ section, implying some kind of vocational or diploma-level education.
Thane’s Shiv Sena MP Rajan Vichare with 13 cases topped the list of candidates with criminal cases against them, followed by Swabhimani Paksha’s Raju Shetti with 12 cases, while Shivajirao Adhal has 10 cases against him.
BJP’s Hansraj Ahir from Chandrapur has 11 criminal cases, while Dilip Gandhi from Ahmednagar, Gopal Shetty from Mumbai North and Kirit Somaiya from Mumbai North-East have 10 cases each pending against them.
Gadkari, a former BJP president, is passionate about exploring alternative energy sources for the country’s progress and is connected with some big infrastructure companies.
His party colleague Munde runs one of the most successful sugar factories in Marathwada, besides being an agricultural landlord.
Youthful BJP MP Sanjay Dhotre from Akola – with three criminal cases and assets worth Rs.4 crore plus – is a cotton farmer and well versed about farmland issues in the entire Vidarbha region. Shiv Sena leader Bhawana Gawli, third-time winner from Yavatmal-Washim Lok Sabha constituency, has four criminal cases against her.
Running several prestigious educational institutions in Vidarbha, Bhawana Gawli, a divorcee, was handpicked by Shiv Sena patriarch late Bal Thackeray to revive the party in eastern Maharashtra.
Ashok Chavan of the Congress – who had to quit as the chief minister following his alleged involvement in the Adarsh Society scam – has no criminal case against him.
Two NCP members – graduate Dhananjay Mahadik from Kolhapur and school-level educated Vijaysinh Mohite-Patil from Madha – have one criminal case each lodged against them.
Chandrakant Khaire – the fourth-term member from Aurangabad with eight cases and assets worth Rs.9 crore – runs a traditional small family business of bamboo articles. He is credited with single handedly building up the Muslim-dominated tourism city into a Shiv Sena bastion in the past over two decades.