Is it just a perception that money, criminal heft and political success are closely linked?
Or, does documentary evidence support this theory? Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) and Punjab Election Watch (PEW), organisations working for electoral reforms and transparency in the political system, examined affidavits filed by poll candidates contesting for Lok Sabha as well as the assembly in Punjab from 2006 to 2014. A total of 2,074 candidates contested either parliamentary or assembly elections in that period, and what emerged from an in-depth analysis of the voluminous affidavits points to a sad reality.
Cases in point
11% of 2,074 candidates in polls in Punjab from 2006 to 2014 declared criminal cases against themselves, while 5% had ‘serious’ criminal cases
17% of 266 MPs and MLAs had declared criminal cases, while 6% had serious criminal charges pending
19% MPs and MLAs of Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD), 18% Congress, 9% of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) had serious criminal charges
23% of those who contested on SAD ticket since 2006 declared criminal cases; 15% in Cong, 10% BJP, 10% Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), and 9% Independents declared criminal cases
13% of the candidates who had graduate or higher degrees declared criminal cases
7% or only 2 out of 28 woman MPs and MLAs declared criminal case
What about education?
69% of all candidates (2006 to 2014) were Class-12 pass or below
47% of those who became MP or MLA were Class-12 pass or below
Rs 6.7 crore were average assets of MPs/MLAs who studied up to Class 12 or below
Rs 9.9 crore: Average assets of MPs/MLAs who had graduate degree or above