The Election Commission, legal experts and human rights activists have been continually demanding to debar convicted persons as well as those charged with heinous crimes from contesting elections.
However, the painful truth is that no action have been taken by the Centre in this regard. Therefore the number of criminals who under the banner of different political parties contest and win the elections, is increasing rapidly. With the last phase of the assembly polls in five states scheduled to be held on Wednesday, the reports that one third of the candidates of different parties competing in UP elections are accused in criminal cases, are shocking. Those charged with serious crimes like murder, rape and abduction are also included in the list. The self-declared affidavits of the candidates reveal this fact. According to the analysis by the Uttar Pradesh Election Watch and Association for Democratic Reforms, 859 of the total 4823 candidates have disclosed criminal cases against them. While the share of those with criminal cases stood at eight per cent in the last elections, the number has gone up to 19 per cent this time.
The BSP ranks first in the aspect. Of the party’s 400 candidates, 150 persons are charged in criminal cases; that is, 40 per cent. The BJP which confidently boats of capturing power in UP, follows closely behind. Of the total number of candidates belonging to the saffron gang, 36 per cent are accused in criminal cases. The Samajwadi party has fielded candidates of which 37 per cent of them face criminal charges while Congress candidates consists of 30 per cent criminals. The parties have given tickets not only to criminals but also to crorepatis. According to the self-sworn affidavits, there are 30 per cent affluent candidates contesting in the polls.
It’s being continually proved that the Indian democracy is in the clutches of the tainted rich-criminal associations. The harsh reality is that the BSP that claim to be a party of Dalits and minorities, the SP that vows to stand for the backward classes, the BJP that claim to be the flag-bearers of patriotism or the Congress that shed crocodile tears in the name of Mahatma Gandhi, have little pain or dissent in the democracy being hijacked this way. UP Governor recently sought clarification from Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav over the continuation of rape accused Minister Gayatri Prajapati in his cabinet.
The sense of reality that no one would last in the party if he threw out those charged with murder, rape and violence against women might be the reason that forced Akhilesh to withdraw from the move. However prominent the case, the fact that it would take several years in India for the courts to pass the final verdict, benefits the parties by enabling them to field criminals as candidates, and making them Ministers by winning the elections. Power and positions provide opportunities to destroy evidences accordingly, as well. The common man has become accustomed to this unending practice of making the democracy and elections worthless. That a person, despite his criminal background, is efficient enough to carrying out the tasks determines his eligibility in the eyes of the common man, as a Minister or representative of people.
Chief Election Commissioner Nasim Zaidi says that there was more movement of cash and more distribution of liquor in state polls this time. He reveals seizures of liquor and cash more than three times compared to the assembly polls 2012. Cash worth Rs 350 crore was seized. Liquor worth Rs 60 crore was caught in Uttar Pradesh alone. It could be easily understood that the quantity found wouldn’t even make up to one tenth of the actual amount. What kind of prosperity and welfare could be expected when votes are ‘sold’ by receiving bulky amounts as bribes and engaging in drunken revelling? What kind of development would be initiated by the representatives such persons elect? The ‘achche dins’ of peace, amity and prosperity promised by Modi would remain as mere exaggerations without freeing the nation from this grave imbroglio.