With the Supreme Court saying that MPs or MLAs convicted by a court of law would stand disqualified even if they appeal against their conviction, political parties have woken up to a new reality: criminality in politics may not work much longer.
Their reactions were guarded, though they said they welcomed electoral reforms in principle. They added they would have to study the judgment in detail.
The issue isn't new.
A year back, activist-turned-politician Arvind Kejriwal irked many but struck a chord with restless youth by saying that 163 MPs in Parliament were accused of heinous crimes like murder and rape.
ADR said soon after the verdict that 1460 out of 4807 (30%) sitting MPs and MLAs have declared criminal cases against themselves in their affidavits before the Election Commission. 688 (14%) of all sitting MPs and MLAs analyzed have declared serious criminal cases against themselves. 1258 (31%) out of the 4032 sitting MLAs from all state assemblies have declared criminal cases against themselves, ADR added.
With the apex court giving a voice to a sentiment shared by millions, the judgment is bound to affect electoral politics.
AICC General Secretary Ajay Maken said Congress always supported electoral reforms, but added the party would study the order. BJP Vice President Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi welcomed the verdict, saying that electoral reforms should be expedited in the wake of the order.
BJP's deputy leader in the Rajya Sabha Ravi Shankar Prasad said he would read the verdict before commenting, but added: "BJP in principle always welcomes any step aimed at purifying and strengthening the political system."
CPI leader D Raja saw the judgment as an "important one", and added, "It is going to have a very serious implication on the entire polity. Political parties will have to study the judgement so that they will get benefited. They will have to educate their own cadres."
RJD chief Lalu Prasad awaits a court verdict relating to the fodder scam, and now his potential candidature in the future hangs on the impending verdict. This may impact politics in Bihar, already seeing realignments.
Former Union minister Shibu Soren was convicted of conspiracy to murder his former private secretary. Had conviction been a disqualification then, he would have been disqualified as MP.
Bollywood has for long made blockbusters on crime in politics. The theme, however, seems endangered by the apex court's judgment.