By Mayank Jain:Â
Elections will give an opportunity to everyone to be a part of the process.We all expect a good leader when we go out to vote. Those who have saintly virtues including selflessness, honesty and fairness. This issue is most common of them all, but is hardly taken up once elected representatives assume office and people go out to vote again with imperfect knowledge and half-baked iron will, to not let criminal candidates come to power.
Having a criminal candidate in a position where he determines the way we lead our lives by framing the laws for us is like appointing a devil to govern for the good. Association of Democratic Reforms has firmly stood against this since a long time. When they reached the courts to make disclosures necessary, 22 parties convened an all-party meeting to defy SC order and changed the Representation of People Act. They went to the court once again and the court upheld their point making the disclosures necessary which enable us to know the truth of a candidate from his own disclosures.
The statistics are horrific and troublesome. One in three candidates of Lok Sabha is tainted with some sort of case pending against him. Specifically, 162 out of 543 candidates have pending cases. The common rhetoric of political parties is that cases on their ministers are not severe or criminal in nature. Nothing could be farther from the truth since as many as 76 candidates have charges of murder, attempt to murder, kidnapping and robbery among others.
The disturbing fact is that the trend of appointing criminal candidates is on the rise as the number of such ministers has increased from 129 to 162 candidates from 2004 Lok Sabha to the 2009 Lok Sabha.
Candidates with criminal backgrounds can be found anywhere and everywhere. Every party harbours some percentage of criminals among their members. While BJP has 38% criminal candidates, Congress has 21%, Shiv Sena has 82% criminal candidates while parties like MDMK and Jharkhand Mukti Morcha have 100% criminal candidates.
Looking at legislative assemblies is not a pleasing sight either, since 1264 out of 4032 MLAs from legislative assemblies have cases pending against them while 27 MLAs in 2009 were given tickets despite of rape cases pending against them.
To illustrate what politicians with criminal backgrounds can do, let us take the example of Bhaiyya Raja. Bhaiyya Raja had a 20 year girl killed with his plan when she threatened to testify against him because of his lecherous advances at her. There are serious 82 criminal offences against him already. As much as 115 cases have been lodged but no one came forward to testify against him. The lower court announced life sentence for him.
The shocking part: His relationship with the girl was that of maternal grandfather.
While we all shudder at the thought of going to testify against such people or speaking up against these powerful men; staying silent is no choice either. Lack of empathy and moral support for people who try to stand up and fight against injustice and anti-social elements rotting the society gives them power.
According to a former DGP of Bihar, D N Gautam, rule of law is replaced by rule of the devil when a criminal candidate comes to power. Cocktail of criminals, machinery, power, vicious money has become a deadly drink for the society.
“It takes one person to stand firmly against the wrongs.”
Similar story is that of Ajit Sarkar from West Bengal. He was a three time minister of CPI (M) from Purnia, Bihar. He was no less than a messiah of the people for his firebrand politics and he constantly took stands for the lesser privileged. In one instance as his son recounted, he didn’t attend the cricket match of his own son to make sure people don’t feel like he was promoting his own son. He never believed in campaigning and believed that his work is better than promotions.
14th June, 1998: He was found dead in his car with 107 bullets on his body. The accused was Pappu Yadav who Ajit Sarkar defeated in the last election. High Court let the accused go without any charges.
A researcher from Washington analyzed the probability of win for candidates and the results are shameful for all of us. A clean image candidate with no criminal case has only 7% probability of winning while 1 criminal case takes it to 19%. A candidate with 2 or more criminal cases on the other hand, can manage to win the election with a 25% probability.
The reasons for such behaviour are clear too. We reward caste when we see other equally criminal candidates. Caste triumphs criminalization. Common man is very weak in front of the system. These candidates are the only hope for people in front of a vicious corrupted system that doesn’t reward honesty and harasses the meek at every step.
Former Election Commissioner S.Y. Qureshi highlighted this innovativeness very well by recounting instances of cash laden in ambulances to be delivered for elections. He emphasizes the sin of individualism as: “When everyone is worried about his own selfish interest, how can we ensure collective good?”
From fake marriage parties to water tankers laden with alcohol to be distributed; all are innovative ways of buying votes from people. This doesn’t however imply that the politicians are the only ones at fault.Â People are equally shameless and guilt free about taking goods, cash and gadgets from the prospective candidates in return for their votes. Demand creates supply and people’s demand for ‘something extra’ has led us to the current situation.
There have been zero convictions so far for malpractice by candidates which were unearthed by the EC. Karnataka government even tried to withdraw the cases against tainted candidates in order to set them free but Supreme Court intervened at the right moment.
Another expert highlighted the mess we have landed ourselves into, in the following words:
“We are the creators of the whole political system and ministers are our creations. We have sold our only right which is the right to vote.”
The time is right for all of us to take a stand and end the criminal culture once and for all. Let’s take a pledge to not let even a single criminal candidate win this election and close the doors of Parliament for anyone with a dubious background. When we don’t want our families and kids to become criminals, how can we let ourselves be ruled by the devil?