Lok Sabha Elections 2019: ‘Candidates and parties both must publish criminal records’
The 2019 Lok Sabha polls makes the step mandatory in order to raise voter awareness; in the 2014 LS polls, 26% candidates in Jharkhand had criminal recordsUpdated: Mar 12, 2019 14:46 IST
Lok Sabha elections 2019 candidates with criminal antecedents will have to publish their criminal records in newspapers and television channels at least three times during the election campaign, said election officials on Monday.
“Aimed at making voters aware of their candidates, the initiative would also help promote clean politics,” said additional chief electoral officer Vinay Kumar Choubey.
Apart from the candidates themselves, political parties will also have to advertise the criminal records of all the candidates fielded by them. The candidates and the parties will have to bear the cost of advertisements from the campaign expenditure.
Choubey said, “After filing the nomination papers, candidates could publish their criminal records in newspapers and television channels any time up to two days before the voting.” He said that political parties were informed about the new directive.
The rule was made effective for the first time in Jharkhand for these Lok Sabha polls, which is scheduled to be held from April 29 to May 19 in the state. However, the Election Commission of India’s directive in this regard was issued on October 10, 2018, and was implemented in five assembly elections held last year.
Even as major political parties in Jharkhand welcomed the directive, they are now under pressure to choose clean candidates in order to woo voters.
During the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, of the total 236 candidates in Jharkhand, 62 had declared their criminal records in their affidavits to the returning officers. Of these 62 candidates, 40 had declared being named in serious criminal cases, including murder, assault, and kidnap.
Among parties with significant presence in the state, Jharkhand Vikas Morcha (Prajatantrik) had seven candidates with criminal records in 2014; Bharatiya Janata Party had four such candidates; Congress had three; while Jharkhand Mukti Morcha had two candidates with criminal records in the last parliamentary polls in the state.
State BJP spokesperson Pratul Shahdeo said, “Only the cases against any candidate should not be looked at; the nature of the cases is important, too. We don’t have any candidates having murder, kidnap, or rape charges against them.” He said that the party welcomed the Election Commission’s initiative.
Jharkhand Congress spokesperson Kishor Nath Shahdeo said, “This is a good initiative that would encourage every political party to field clean candidates in the elections.”
JMM spokesperson Supriyo Bhattacharya said, “Voters have a right to know about their candidates. But, we have to see the cases. A candidate might have faced a police case even if he/she was struggling for a public cause.”
The National Election Watch (NEW), a nationwide campaign on electoral reforms, improving democracy and governance in India, stressed on the need for strict monitoring of the directive. NEW Jharkhand coordinator Sudhir Pal said, “We studied the implementation of the directive in the Chhattisgarh assembly polls last year. We found that many candidates hid the details of their criminal records while publishing them in newspapers. Besides, they published the [fact of having a criminal record] in a very small font size, and a reader’s eyes could miss it.”
He said, “We have requested the Election Commission for proper monitoring of advertisements by the candidates in newspapers. Besides, there must be a particular time slot while broadcasting the advertisement on television. There is no binding of time for advertising [the criminal record] on television channels right now. So, candidates might broadcast it for ten seconds or less in a day. Voters may miss it.”
#A glance on 2014 Lok Sabha Polls
•234 was the number of candidates contested 2014 Lok Sabha Polls
•62 candidates declared criminal cases against them
•40 candidates declared with serious criminal cases
•7 was the number of JVM-P candidates with criminal records
•4 candidates with criminal cases contested LS polls on BJP ticket
•3 candidates with criminal records contested polls from Congress party
•2 candidates with criminal cases were from JMM
Janta Dal (United): 3 candidates with criminal records
AJSU Party: 1 candidate with criminal records
RJD: 1 candidate with criminal records