Criminalisation Of Indian Politics: Is it good or is it worse

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, talking about the killing of gangster-politician Atiq Ahmed and his brother Ashraf Ahmed in Uttar Pradesh's Prayagraj district, termed it as a “shameful” act and expressed her shock over what she called collapse of law and order in India’s largest state.

 

 

Taking to Twitter, CM Banerjee wrote, “I am shocked by the brazen anarchy and total collapse of law and order in Uttar Pradesh. It is shameful that perpetrators are now taking the law in their own hands, unfazed by the police and media presence. Such unlawful acts have no place in our constitutional democracy.”

 

Her remarks come a day after Atiq and his brother Ashraf were shot dead at point-blank range by three men, posing as mediapersons in the middle of a media interaction while police personnel were escorting them to a medical college in Prayagraj for a check-up.

 

 

The Opposition on Sunday slammed the BJP over the killing of gangster-politician Atiq Ahmed and his brother Ashraf Ahmed and alleged that "jungle raj" and "mafia raj" were prevalent under its rule.

'Total Collapse Of Law & Order In UP': Mamata Banerjee Reacts To Killing Of Atiq, Ashraf Ahmed

"No one can be allowed to mess with it. Judiciary has the right to decide the punishment of the criminal. This right cannot be given to any government, leader or person who violates the law," Congress President Mallikarjun Kharge tweeted.

 

 

CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury said strict action should be taken against those involved in the incident. "Jungle Raj under BJP Yogi govt in UP. Its USP: Encounter killings, Bulldozer politics & patronising criminals. Enforce rule of law; apprehend perpetrators & punish them stringently," he said in a tweet.

 

 

 

Meanwhile, police patrolling was stepped up in Prayagraj's Chakiya area where Atiq Ahmad's house is located, even as the Uttar Pradesh police tightened security across the state.

Indian voters are an unlucky lot. Clean candidates are hard to come by, and it’s not getting any easier. In the last 15 years, over 26% of the candidates of the top parties in state-level polls had declared criminal cases against them. Since 2018, this share has been one-in-three, with independent candidates and small parties being the only saving grace. 

Crime and politics are synonymous. Data revealed by the Association of Democratic Reforms (ADR) a watchdog on politics, political parties and elections, the number of candidates with criminal charges getting elected to Parliament has been on the rise since 2004. Same is the case with State legislatures. The number of Parliamentarians with pending criminal cases has risen from 24% in 2004 to 43% in 2019. To expect accountable and transparent governance from such political representatives is a utopian dream. Political parties don’t care about the criminal antecedents of their candidates as long as the winnability factor is there. In fact, political parties rise in defence of the candidate and rubbish the criminal charges against them as political vendetta. In the recent raid into the farmhouse of BJP, Vice President and Tura MDC, Bernard Marak at Edenbari, Tura which he claims is being run as a homestay.

 

According to data compiled by the Amicus Curiae, a total of 4,984 criminal cases involving legislators were pending in various courts across the country as of 1st December, 2021.

 

The Amicus Curiae was appointed by the Supreme Court for helping the court in setting up special courts to fast-track cases against MPs and MLAs.

 

When criminals turn into elected representatives and become law-makers, they pose a serious threat to the functioning of a democratic system. The very future of our democracy gets imperilled when such offenders masquerade as leaders, making a travesty of the entire system.

 

 The rising number of elected representatives with criminal backgrounds in Parliament and state legislatures is a matter of deep concern to all law-abiding and right-minded citizens. The increasing trend of criminalisation of politics is dangerous and has steadily been eating into the vitals of our democratic polity along with growing corruption of a humongous nature. This perilous drift needs to be checked both by all political parties as well as the judiciary. Timely corrective measures need to be put in place without any further delay, for the common man to have faith in the fairness of the system. Only a time-bound justice delivery system, firmer steps by the Election Commission of India (EC) and a proper strengthening of relevant laws can cleanse the body politic of this evil.

 

Fast-tracking the judicial process will weed out the corrupt as well as criminal elements in the political system. It is high time all political parties came together and developed a consensus on keeping criminals — some of them with serious charges including kidnapping, rape, murder, grave corruption and crimes against women — out of the system.

 

Our election system is in a dire need of systematic and strategic improvements. The criminalisation of our political system has unanimously been observed by almost all recent committees on politics and electoral reform. 

 

There are many forms of criminalisation of politics, the one that is most alarming among them is a significant number of elected representatives with pending criminal charges against them. The criminalisation of politics involves intimidation of voters, booth capturing, the proliferation of non-serious candidates, tampered electoral rolls, and other polling irregularities.

 

The Lucknow Bench of the Allahabad high court has asked Parliament and the Election Commission of India to take effective measures to remove criminals from politics and break the unholy nexus among them, politicians and bureaucrats.

 

The court said it is the responsibility of Parliament to show its collective will to restrain criminals from entering politics or legislature to save democracy and the country governed on democratic principles and the rule of law.

 

The bench said despite the fact that the Supreme Court has taken notice of criminalisation of politics and imperative needs of electoral reforms, Parliament and the Election Commission have not taken adequate measures to protect the Indian democracy from going into the hands of criminals, thugs and law-breakers.

 

The criminals should be blacklisted and disciplinary actions must be taken against them. Adequate measures must be taken by the Election Commission in order to break the link between the criminals and politicians.

 

By Ivan Maximus Edwin

Comments
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Yasmeen Gul - Jun 21, 2023, 4:45 AM - Add Reply

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Puja Sharma - Jun 21, 2023, 1:57 PM - Add Reply

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