Criminalization of Politics

What is Criminalization of Politics-?

Elections in India have been mutilated by the evil influences of money and muscle power. This has led to criminalization of electoral politics. The criminalization of politics continues to be a big concern, with an increase in the number of MPs with criminal records from 128 [14th Lok Sabha] to 150 [15th Lok Sabha]. It is evidence to the undemocratic and autocratic selection and nomination of candidates by political parties. In order to ensure the win ability of candidates, parties ignored honesty to give preference to money power and muscle power.

Criminalization of Politics can be visualized into two different senses. In narrow sense it refers to the direct entry and interference of Criminals into State legislatures and parliament of India, while on wider sense it refers to interference of criminals into politics either directly or indirectly like financing any candidate, providing anti-social manpower, booth capturing, contract killing of rival candidates, providing muscle power services, as well as campaigning or canvassing for any candidate contesting elections. Since last two decades the competitive use of anti-social forces for the mobilization of party funds, for management of elections, organizing meetings and conference and even recruiting workers at lower levels from among anti-social elements has increased many folds. Approximate all political parties from national to regional taking services of criminals to win election. Earlier criminals used to lend outside support but now they themselves have entered in the electoral arena and have become not only members of the house but even have become ministers. Thus we have a new phenomenon in Indian politics called “Tainted ministers.”

15th Lok Shaba at a glance-

Election Commission of India has recently in May 2009, conducted general elections for 15th Lok Sabha at 543 constituencies all over India. Let us have a look at the status of criminalization [data] in Indian politics.

2004 2009 Increase % Increase
MPs with criminal records 128 150 22 17.2%
Total Criminal cases on MPs 429 412 -17 -4%
MPs with serious criminal records 55 72 17 30.9%

Mr. Jagdish Sharma of JD [U] from Jahanabad constituency of Bihar topped the list of MPs with maximum number of serious IPC charges against them. There are 17 serious IPC charges against him. Gujarat is at top with contribution of 4 MPs in list of top 10 MPs with criminal background in 15th Lok Sabha of India, followed by U.P. [3], Bihar [2] and Kerala [1].

Elections in many parts of the country have become associated with a host of criminal activities. Threatening voters to vote for a particular candidate or physically preventing voters from going to the polling booth [especially weaker sections of society like dalits, tribals and rural women] occurs frequently in several parts of the country. Since last 15 years, not a single election has conducted peacefully without use of money or muscle power and domestic violence. Sometimes rival candidates got killed in a bid to have the elections cancelled. All these acts of lawlessness and violence have become possible because of the growing links between many politicians and criminal/anti-social elements. Let me avail opportunity of mentioning few prominent names in this bourgeoning field in India and I hope you must be familiar with these famous personalities like Mohammad Sahabuddin [ He was elected to four successive terms in the Indian Parliament (Lok Sabha) from 1996-2008 from Siwan constituency Bihar on RJD ticket. In 1996, Sahabuddin was named as a Minister of State for the Home Ministry (which oversees law and order) in the H.D. Deve Gowda government. He is currently serving a life sentence for kidnapping with intent to murder and as many as 34 cases of serious crime are pending against him], Mukhtar Ansari [ He is commonly referred to as “the Sahabuddin of UP.” Mukhtar Ansari fought the U.P. State Elections, 2007, while lodged initially at Ghazipur jail], Atiq Ahmad [In 2004-2009, he was a member of the 14th Lok Sabha from the Phulpur (Lok Sabha Constituency) in Uttar Pradesh. He is currently in prison facing trial in 35 criminal cases including several cases of murder. In the Indian general elections, 2009, Atiq Ahmad was allowed to run for election (since he is yet to be convicted in any case)], Shibhu Soren [He was Chief Minister of Jharkhand state in India from 2008 to 2009. He previously represented the Dumka constituency of Jharkhand in the 14th Lok Sabha and is the President of the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) political party, a constituent of the UPA. He was member of Union Cabinet since November 2006, till he resigned after conviction in a murder case. There is no end of this list because it is expanding year after year.

Recently during general elections for 15th Lok Sabha, Sanjay Dutt tried hard to ensure his place in the list on ticket of SP. Fortunately judiciary did not allow him to consent election. All these persons are involved in serious criminal cases like murder, robbery, kidnapping and extortion and most of them in several cases of such nature. Keeping aside the issue whether they should be allowed to contest polls or not? Let me ask you is it morally or ethically correct for persons who are alleged to have been involved in criminal cases to contest polls and represent the people in the house? What about the political parties of country which are providing ample opportunities to criminals and harboring criminalization of politics by giving maximum possible tickets to them?

The answer would be in the negative only if morals and ethics have no place in politics. It would indeed be a sad day for politics in India, if it is accepted that moral and ethics have no place in politics in India. But fact remains a fact.

We can consider this issue in the light that even a peon would not be appointed to a government job in case he is alleged to be involved in a criminal case. There is a clear bar on any person involved in criminal activities to be appointed on a government job. As a matter of fact, every government servant has to file an affidavit that he has never been involved in criminal activities and he has no criminal case pending investigation or trial against him.

The Vohra committee appointed by the Central Government under chairmanship of Mr. M. N. Vohra to look into this problem said in its report that the mafia network was virtually running a parallel government, pushing the State apparatus into irrelevance. A petty dada finds it easy to become a feared representative of the people. Mafia gangs enjoyed the patronage of local level politicians and that some gang members even got elected to the Assemblies and Parliament.

Criminalization of politics in India has attained a stage, where it needs serious attention from the citizens, government and political parties as there was a steady decline in values of all sections of our society. Criminalization of politics has led to immense pressure on functioning of political institution. The worst part of picture is that “criminal record” becomes an essential qualification for entry into politics. In India Politics is not a social service anymore, instead it emerged as a lucrative profession or business. Today it is used to believe that crime is the shortest access to legislature and parliament of India. Further success rate of criminals into electoral process is alluring the young blood of country as a source of negative inspiration for them. It is now believed that the safest haven for criminals is politics and political parties have gone overboard in associating criminals with them more because of their muscle and money power, which is supposed to ensure victory in polls. Criminalization of the political system is threatening the very roots of democracy in India.

Reasons-

  1. Political Culture of India
  2. A banal remark has been in frequent use in Indian politics since last few years that “innocent until proved guilty.” This has become a boon for the criminal-politicians because investigations can always be manipulated and notorious judicial delays ensure that even the worst criminals are not convicted for decades
  3. Lack of ethics or values in Indian politics, generally all major or minor political parties in India used to play blame game, instead of finding a collective solution of the problem. Let me tell you the significance of ethics in politics of India by mentioning “Omar Abdullah episode” happened recently in J&K legislative assembly. On 28th July 2009, Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah resigned on moral grounds from the post after a senior PDP leader alleged that he was involved in the Srinagar sex scandal. There was high drama in the Assembly when Abdullah said he would step down and not return till the allegations were proved wrong. Members of his party, National Conference, surrounded him and tried to physically stop him from leaving. Congress in-charge of state Prithviraj Chavan had tried to stop Abdullah and asked him not to resign. Most noticeable thing during this whole episode was reactions which, came from political lobby of India. Many senior and prominent politicians in Indian politics declared Omar Abdulla an emotional fool and immature fallow because he resigned on the civil or moral grounds. It clearly shows that resigning on moral grounds in India considered as an act of foolishness. Does it mean that Railway Minister [Lal Bahadur Shastri] during Nehru regime, who gave his resignation on moral grounds after a rail accident, was an emotional fool? We all know the moral of story.
  4. Politics of coalition [an emerging trend in India]
  5. Week civil society in India
  6. According to my opinion the problem of criminalization of politics is very much interlinked with all other major problems prevailed in India like illiteracy, poverty, corruption, lack of awareness and sense of responsibility as an Indian citizen
  7. Inadequacy of laws to cater this problem
  8. Lack of initiative in mango peoples [Aam Aadmi]

What has been done by government in this issue-?

To check the rot, several committees and commissions have been appointed for electoral reforms and to look into the gravity of matter. It seems that establishing committees/commissions becomes a routine activity of Indian government or we say that it is a new trend in vogue! These committees have suggested several measures like T.N. Seshan in 1992 [then chief election commissioner of India] aimed at eradicating criminalization of politics. With the efforts of election commission in India, now declaration of all charges pending against a political aspirant becomes obligatory through an affidavit along with nomination form. There is a limit [virtual] on election spending during campaign etc. The concept of “judicial Activism” is also worth mentioning in this issue. But still a lot has to be done to stem the rot. However, law alone cannot clean the electoral system.

What to do-?

  1. All Political parties instead of blaming each other should evolve a code of ethics among themselves by consensus and not give ticket to such criminal elements [Stop nurturing crime in politics]
  2. The Election Commission has made various recommendations regarding partial state funding of polls which should be given a serious thought by government
  3. Steps should also be taken to ensure transparency in the funds of political parties; if it requires framing new laws then government should not hesitate in going ahead
  4. Government should adopt an integrated approach towards this problem
  5. The candidate should not be allowed to contest election if charges are framed against such person by the court [does not matter whether charges are major or minor]
  6. Vigilant public opinion is also required to put pressure on government
  7. People have to be sensitized about the malaise of the electoral process. Only then, free and fair poll can be conducted, which will lead to strengthening of democracy in India.
  8. Youngster along with civil societies and voluntary groups can spread awareness on mass level so that people can choose educated, sincere, dedicated, transparent and deserving candidates as their political representatives
  9. I will strongly recommend and urge to youngsters for being a part of country’s politics instead of leaving country to augment brain-drain. Youngsters must come forward to make a drastic and positive change in Indian Politics.
  10. Contribution of candid and responsive media may be last but certainly not least
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2 Comments

Filed under IAS-2010, India, Politics, Power

2 responses to “Criminalization of Politics

  1. Malvika

    A very informative article!!!!!!!!

  2. Ravindra

    Very Good Article

    U have got incredible writing skills

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