The Supreme Court order on disqualification of convicted MPs and state legislators could put a number of public representatives in a state of quandary in Rajasthan as not less than 30 MLAs are facing criminal cases of various natures.
The order has received mixed response from different political parties.
Those on the hit list are former minister Mahipal Maderna and Congress MLA Malkhan Singh, who are in jail in connection with Bhanwari Devi murder case. Leader of Opposition Gulab Chand Kataria and BJP chief whip Rajendra Singh Rathore too may face tough times as their names figure in the chargesheets of the Sohrabuddin Sheikh encounter case and Dara Singh encounter fake respectively.
According to details compiled by Rajasthan Election Watch, an organisation working for democratic reforms, after 2008 assembly elections, Congress leads the pack with maximum number of MLAs -- 15 out of 96 -- facing criminal cases.
The opposition Bharatiya Janta Party (BJP) too has five legislators out of 77 with criminal cases. Out of six legislators of Bahujan Samajwadi Party (who later joined Congress) three face criminal cases and out of three legislators of CPM one has criminal cases registered against him.
Out of total 30 MLAs who declared criminal cases against them, eight had declared serious criminal cases including murder and abduction against them.
These figures expose claims by political parties to weed out criminals from politics.
In 2008 elections, CPM legislator from Anupgarh constituency Pawan Duggal led the pack with maximum number of heinous and violent crime cases. He declared six changes related to attempt to murder against him. Following him was BSP legislator (now in Congress) from Udaipurwati constituency Rajendra Singh Guda who declared two charges of attempt to murder and two kidnapping charges. Guda is now minister of state for home guards in the state government.
Another BSP legislator (now in Congress) from Nawalgarh constituency Raj Kumar Sharma declared one charge of attempt to murder. Sharma is now minister of state for health.
Congress legislator and parliamentary secretary Zahida Khan from Kaman constituency also declared two charges related to illegal payments in connection with an election.
Partywise MLAs with criminal cases:
· Congress - 15 out of 96
· BJP - 5 out of 77
· BSP - 3 out of 6 (all six later joined Congress)
· CPM - 1 out of 3
· Loktantrik Samajwadi Party - 1
Partywise candidates with criminal cases in 2008 polls:
· Congress - 28 out of 200
· BJP - 18 out of 188
· BSP - 31 out of 196
· CPM - 17 out of 32
· SP - 7 out of 60
· LSWP - 5 out of 20
Satish Poonia, BJP general secretary
“This is a welcome step by the Supreme Court. No one will deny that there is a need to decriminalise politics. But democratic institutions, too, have a role in a democracy. Political parties should get together and debate this issue and bring in a strong legislation that will check entry of criminals in politics”.
Archana Sharma, Congress spokesperson
“We support the step taken by the Supreme Court to clean up politics. The party strongly believes that criminal elements should be removed from politics. During the chintan shivir, Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi too had laid emphasis on ensuring that tickets are not given to criminals”.
Amraram, CPM legislator:
“The court has said that those convicted and imprisoned for two years will be disqualified. If this happens, no one will be able to contest. And they will not even have the right to appeal. How will we fight for the cause of the people? If the intention is to remove criminals from politics than only those with serious allegations should be debarred and not all MPs or MLAs”.