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In tainted hands

Election results show people with criminal record still get tickets, but the number is falling, reports Arnab Hazra.

delhi Updated: Dec 11, 2008 00:10 IST
Arnab Hazra

What do Sewda, Jaisinghnagar, Kasrawad and Kotama in Madhya Pradesh have in common?

Nearly 6 lakh voters in these four constituencies had no choice but to elect an MLA with criminal charges, because not even one contestant was clean on that count. An analysis of this week’s vote count in .

Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Delhi shows crime-tainted politicians are still winning tickets and elections in large numbers, although their share among all contestants are declining.

Every third MLA elected in Delhi has criminal charges pending; it’s one in six for MP and one in nine for Rajasthan, according to numbers distilled out of affidavits filed by the candidates with the Election Commission.

Chhattisgarh, however, proved an exception, with only one in 22. Also, the tribal state saw a sharp drop — from 14.4 per cent in 2003 to 4.4 per cent now — in the share of crime-tainted MLAs.

The reason is not far to seek. Political parties appeared to have made an effort to ensure fewer candidates with criminal records filed nominations. The share of crime-tainted MLAs dropped by half in MP, while in Rajasthan it showed a marginal decline and in Delhi, it increased between 2003 and 2008. (see table)

In other words, the task of weeding out crime-tainted politicians rests largely with parties.

“There is definitely a lack of political will to curb criminalisation of politics”, said Bibhu Prasad Mohapatra, analyst at India Development Foundation, a research body. “They go by the yardstick of ‘winnability’ of the candidate, and caste, religion, crime records and money power — all the known tyrannies of democracy - come into play while giving tickets to such candidates.”

No surprise that 60 elected representatives were behind the bars during voting for the last presidential polls. Of the 543 members of the Lok Sabha, 102 MPs have pending criminal cases against them.