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HindustanTimes Sun,28 Dec 2014

Supporting parties, allies forced govt to go slow against criminalisation of politics

Nagendar Sharma  New Delhi, October 05, 2013
First Published: 21:47 IST(5/10/2013) | Last Updated: 21:52 IST(5/10/2013)

Three years after the UPA government had proposed debarring those candidates from contesting elections against whom charges have been framed in courts for allegedly committing heinous crimes, allies and supporting parties have virtually ensured it continues to remain in deep freeze.

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Following six rounds of consultations at various places across the country, the government had finalised a proposal in September 2010 to amend the Representation of the People (RP) Act to disqualify those candidates against whom charges have been framed for offences carrying a jail term of five years and above.

The government had also decided to convene an all party meeting on the issue, before it got entangled in the dispute over the Lokpal bill with social activist Anna Hazare and his erstwhile team.

The issue was revived in March this year by the Congress Party, with its chief Sonia Gandhi setting-up a six member panel on electoral reforms, headed by senior leader Ambika Soni.

The panel comprising Mani Shankar Aiyar, M Veerappa Moily, MS Gill, EMS Natchiappan and Mohan Gopal, favoured the proposal to keep the chargesheeted candidates out of the election process.

The matter was still under consideration when the Supreme Court in its July 10 verdict mandated immediate disqualification of any MP/MLA convicted by a court for a criminal offence punishable with more than two years in jail.

The maximum opposition to this verdict was from parties like the Samajwadi Party, Bahujan Samaj Party and the Rashtriya Janata Dal, all of whom extend outside support to the government.

The general view among all major parties was that the Supreme Court on the issue should be reversed, though BJP, Biju Janata Dal and the Trinamool Congress struck a discordant note later.

With the three month unsuccessful exercise on first trying to amend the RP Act through a bill in parliament and later through attempts to bring an ordinance to provide partial relief to convicted MPs/MLAs now over, the Supreme Court verdict will be the law of the land, for now.

However, any change in the current system of chargesheeted candidates being allowed to contest is unlikely to change before the next year’s general elections, given the lack of time and growing bitterness between the government and the opposition.


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