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Can House Ever be Criminal Free?

January 12, 2018

Can the House Ever be Criminal Free


Politics has always been labelled as a dirty business. But the viciousness swings to another level when the politicians sitting in the House turn out to have a criminal past. There have been a number of cases where contesting and even ruling candidates have cases filed on them for felony and sometimes for charges as severe as murder.

Considering the recent case of Gujarat’s newly appointed MLAs, about 26% of them are facing criminal charges. Media reports also suggest that a total of 33 have been charged with murder and attempt to murder. In 2012 too, 57 of the sitting MLAs had criminal charges against them.

There is also a rise in the filing of candidates who have criminal records. And according to an ADR (Association for Democratic Reforms) study, BJP has the highest number of MLAs and MPs charged with crimes against women, including rape and abduction.

Why do People Vote for Criminals?

Most of the candidates’ history is veiled. And the majority of the Indian population is ignorant of the politics and politicians, let alone be aware of their criminal past. The studies indicate once a politician with criminal background gets elected, they have more chances of getting re-elected than a candidate with a clean slate. A report indicates that regular candidates have average assets of Rs 1.37 crore while those who won the election have it averaged to Rs 3.8 crore. And the politicians’ wealth with a crooked past is interestingly rounded to Rs 4.30 crore. The acquired wealth over their duration in power helps them to stay ahead in the next elections too.
The ADR study shows that the politicians with a tainted past have a better record at winning and are more likely to get elected again by a sizeable 74% chance.

Measures Taken to Deal with the Problem

It is evident that it is in the hands of voters to stop the penetration of criminals in politics, but the government has also taken several measures to help the general masses take an informed decision when they vote. Last year, at polling booths in some states, there ware hoardings which displayed criminal past of the politicians. The same information was also proposed to be shared in newspapers and the website of the civic bodies.
To alleviate the plaguing issue, SC also ordered to complete the trial of all MLAs and MPs within a year to get a clear verdict on their criminal status as soon as possible. The move was seen as a huge step towards cleansing the political process.

Still Roadblocks Ahead…

Progressive moves have been taken, but the measures to uproot the problem altogether is still an uphill battle. The criminal factor can be removed entirely from the equation of politics if only a convict could be banned from entering into elections. However, the apex court has ruled out the possibility stating that it is not in its power to pass the judgment. The Parliament has the final word they can fight the polls or not. And the government showed reluctance over the move to ban them forever from the elections.
SC also cleared that they could not debar a criminal politician from leading a party. On the other hand, Election Commission too could not de-register a party if its head and majority turn out to have criminal records.

The movement has started but it will take a long time before for an absolute dismissal of criminals from the politics.

We hope that people reject this practice electing leaders with such backgrounds in the forthcoming Meghalaya Assembly election, Tripura Assembly ElectionNagaland Assembly Election and Karnataka Assembly Election.

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Disclaimer: The views expressed are of those of the author and do not represent the views of Elections.in.


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