ByÂ Vaishali Jain:
Truth be told, majority of our people once believed that politics was a ‘profession’ that had no conscience. The poor, misinformed people forgave the government every time for dashing their hopes, respecting the sentiments of the said conscienceless profession. But things are changing; views are changing.
When on July 10, the Supreme Court passed a judgment that any Member of Parliament or legislative assembly convicted of an offence punishable by more than two years in jail would be disqualified from his office with immediate effects; the people of India outspokenly supported the apex court’s ruling. A strong base of 98% Indian voters, in an Avaaz poll, back Supreme Court’s attempt to decriminalize politics. Also, based on the existing Representation of the People Act, 1961, a convicted person would not have the right to contest elections from the date of conviction to until six years after his release.
However, on September 24, the Union Cabinet approved an Ordinance to overturn the Supreme Court ruling. This executive act shows that the government has blocked its ear from the public voice — by choice. The national dialogue seems to be of no importance. They ask for statistics; they love majority; yet, show them the Avaaz polls results and they might reconsider their love for numbers. More than 115k people have signed the petition asking the government to disinfect the democracy. More than 13k people have written to the Vice President and the Speaker of the Lok Sabha to send the bill to a Standing Committee for proper scrutiny and public opinion.
This unpopular ordinance will give the UPA nothing but more loss of credibility. Although, not every politician has shown comfort with the proposed ordinance, the Indian polity is very much a refuge for criminals, for whom protection from the law is the main reason for their interest in becoming a lawmaker. The BJPs half-hearted opposition of the improper move comes as nothing but oppositional politics seeing the number of criminals they breed in their own team. Rahul Gandhi’s comment, sure, is Congress’ tactic to take the limelight away from BJP. The ordinance is to save their party members from gnaws of justice. Of course, they can’t state this obvious reason in public. Their very simple concern is outlined in the fact that the ruling might severely damage the candidate’s prospects in politics even if later proved to be innocent, considering the amount of time the whole legal procession generally takes. In that case, why not advocate fast-track courts?
Go for the analysis of the political records and one will find that almost 40% of the winning candidates from both BJP and Congress are those with “serious criminal charges”. 162 Lok Sabha MPs have cases pending against them. It’s a shame that a MPs crime case takes more years than the existence of the average Indian youth. How does one expect to kick criminals out of politics when the base line for candidates is so lenient and unconsidered? The parliamentarians with criminal charges against them are fighting back to come into power. Their rotten-apple effect does not need any demonstration, people can judge for themselves.
It’s a general consensus that we need a political revolution. We all agree that politics needs to be decriminalised. It’s a slap on our face if the said parliamentarians with as serious charges as rape, murder, extortion, corruption etc. come to claim our votes. We need practicality in our system, not mockery. The allegations and cases can be worked upon with practical effectuality if there are fast track courts dedicated to expediting criminal cases against elected representatives. The Indian politics needs a ‘conscience’; the ordinance has shown how much they are ready to have one; and, its unpopularity has shown how much we want them to have one.