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India polls: Murder, extortion charges no barrier in polls

Published on Apr 14, 2014 2:55 PM
 
The first elected Maoist politician to the Indian Parliament Kameshwar Baitha (centre) gestures as he poses with supporters at Parliament House in New Delhi, June 8, 2009. The list of charges against Indian politician Kameshwar Baitha is long and startling: 16 counts of murder, 25 of attempted murder, six of assault with a dangerous weapon, three of extortion... and so on. -- FILE PHOTO: AFP

NEW DELHI (AFP) - The list of charges against Indian politician Kameshwar Baitha is long and startling: 16 counts of murder, 25 of attempted murder, six of assault with a dangerous weapon, three of extortion... and so on.

In many democratic countries, such severe criminal allegations would be catastrophic to a politician's chances of winning a seat in the nation's parliament.

But Baitha says the 109 charges, wracked up during his time as a Maoist insurgent in his home state of eastern Jharkhand, will not dent his chances at the ballot box as he seeks re-election in the mammoth elections underway in India.

"The kind of work I've done, and particularly my focus on the weakest social groups in my constituency, is what makes me popular," Baitha told AFP, dismissing the charges as false.

 
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