| Sonia Gandhi
New Delhi, Oct. 24: The Congress today went one step ahead of its rivals by becoming the first party to take initiative in keeping away criminal elements from the poll fray.
In its effort to select the cleanest candidate, the party has directed ticket aspirants to file affidavits furnishing details of their criminal records, if any, as also about their property and educational qualifications while applying for nominations.
This is in addition to the Election Commission of India stipulation that a candidate contesting for Parliament and state legislature has to file an affidavit furnishing “full and complete” information relating to his/her criminal antecedents, if any, movable and immovable assets, details of liabilities/overdues and educational qualifications.
The stipulation, which followed a Supreme Court directive two months ago on the issue, requires a candidate to submit the affidavit to the returning officer along with the nomination papers.
Party spokesperson Anand Sharma said the poll panel’s decision has vindicated the stand of the Congress, which, inside and outside Parliament, has been championing for complete disclosure of information.
“This is something we have enforced at the level of the party,” he said.
“We have already requested all the five Pradesh Congress Committees of election-going states to immediately communicate to the aspirants of Congress tickets that they shall fill up the affidavits and submit to PCC/AICC in advance so that while selecting the names for the ticket, the affidavit and the details therein could be verified by the central election committee,” AICC general secretary Oscar Fernandes said in a statement today.
Asked how the party would verify whether information furnished by a candidate is correct, Sharma said: “The party has a mechanism to ascertain the correctness (of an affidavit). We have functional party committees in every block.” The party is also hoping that rival candidates would also help expose those hiding information.