The Election Commission of India website, in its FAQs section regarding election contesting requirements, has stated that:
As per Section 8 (3) of R. P. Act, 1951, if a person is convicted of any offence and sentenced to an imprisonment of 2 years or more, this will be disqualification to contest elections.
One would say it is fair. After all, nobody wants their candidate to go to jail instead of assuming office after they win. Fair, but is it fair enough? I believe we have enough able candidates without any criminal record standing up for elections. Why is it that the ones with an alarming number of cases against them are allowed to stand on the same footing alongside these clean-chit candidates?
Chhagan Bhujbal, former Deputy Chief Minister of Maharashtra state was booked under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) after his main accomplice, nephew Sameer Bhujbal gave statements that led to his arrest. It was alleged that large sums of money were laundered by Bhujbal and then invested into shell companies that were floated by his son Pankaj, and Sameer. He apparently had built an entire empire of flourishing trades on the basis of this dishonest money. Bhujbal, one of the most prominent leaders of the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), had been in power for two terms as the Deputy CM. Are these the kind of leaders we want to place our faith in?
Pramod Muthalik, founder and chief of the Rashtriya Hindu Sena (RHS) has more than 45 cases pending against him across 11 districts in Karnataka. He has never been arrested even once.
Madhu Koda, is a former Chief Minister of Jharkhand who is infamously known for the Madhu Koda mining scam, wherein he had illegally allotted iron ore and coal mining contracts in Jharkhand during his term in power, for bribes.
A Raja, Kanimozhi, Jayalalithaa, Amit Shah, Lalu Prasad Yadav, Mayawati, Uma Bharti and many such prominent and influential political figures have had criminal records that could put a seasoned criminal to shame. It is abominable that despite of such actions and public records, these politicians are still allowed to contest and govern their constituencies. It is also our fault that we cast our votes for these undeserving, deceitful candidates even after knowing how much public loss they are responsible for.
An article published on blog of Foreign Policy states that: “30% of Indian Lawmakers have criminal cases against them”. And crimes of serious charges like rape, kidnapping, murder etc. After being charged, these politicians are seen complaining and claiming that the cases are frivolous and are designed to defame them.
An analysis by the Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) for the last decade shows that 62,847 candidates had average assets of Rs 1.37 crore. But candidates who won elections had average assets of Rs 3.83 crore. What’s more interesting is that the wealth of legislators who faced criminal cases rose even more – to Rs 4.30 crore – and MPs and MLAs facing serious pending charges like murder, kidnapping and rape were on top of the heap with average assets of Rs 4.38 crore.
Crime and politics have become a vicious cycle, lethal for the success of any developmental projects meant for the states or the country, because these criminal politicians are blood-sucking parasites that will loot both the citizens as well as the government. It is necessary that crime be completely dissociated from politics, and that only candidates with no criminal records be allowed for candidature, no matter how minor the legislative position might be. Any politician in their term, who is exposed because of their misuse of power should be immediately exempted of his or her duties.
As a developing nation, we have enough challenges before us. We do not need these two-faced so-called “leaders” to add to our woes and wash their hands in what rightfully belongs to the people.