Politics can no longer be a refuge for criminals if a nationwide campaign yields results. Aiming to bring in more transparency in the electoral process, the National Election Watch (NEW) Network is also campaigning against candidates with a criminal record contesting elections.
The NEW Network, a part of Association for Democratic Reforms, will provide all the information about candidates before the elections in Maharashtra.
It will display all the affidavits which declare the criminal records and wealth of every contesting candidate on its website www.nationalelectionwatch.com and also through an SMS facility that would be launched soon.
As a prelude to the campaign, NEW along with Action for good Governance and Networking in India (AGNI) in Mumbai, will organise the Fifth National Conference on Electoral and Political Reforms at Nehru Centre. It will be held on January 31 and February 1.
The delegates to the conference will include the three election commissioners, members of parliament, administration heads, media representatives and citizens’ representatives.
“In the 2004 Assembly elections, of the 288 candidates elected, 86 have criminal cases against them. It is time we got honest and clean people as our representatives who are lawmakers not breakers,” said Anil Bairwal, national coordinator of NEW.
The network, he said is working alongside 1,200 NGOs to create public awareness and pressure so that the country has no criminals as our candidates. The campaign is also demanding the implementation of ‘None of the above’ option during voting. If this option gets the highest number of votes, then a re-election should be considered.
“If maximum voters vote for this option, it means they have rejected all candidates,” said Ajit Ranade, founder member of Association for Democratic Reforms. They have also demanded a comprehensive bill making it mandatory for political parties to disclose their sources of income.