Criminalization of Politics in India

In Indian Politics, there are many challenges such as - Communalism, Regionalism, Casteism but criminalization is one of the biggest problems which has made a far-reaching impact on governance and society as a whole. The term Criminalization of Politics means that the criminals enter into politics and contest elections and even get elected to the Parliament and State Legislatures. This takes place primarily, due to the connection between the Criminals and some Politicians.

The trend of inducting Criminals into Politics began in the eighties when the two mafia dons of Eastern Uttar Pradesh- Hari Shankar Tiwari and Virendra Pratap Shukla contested and won the election. Thereafter, all parties started fielding criminals who did not depend on party organisations to contest elections and ample muscle power of their own. Today the line has blurred- one does not know if a politician is into crime or a criminal is into politics. 

Some Key Facts-
1.  43% of MP in Lok Sabha have declared criminal cases against themselves
2.  29% of MP in Lok Sabha have serious criminal cases including rape, murder, kidnapping, crimes against women.
3.  44% of MPs in Rajya Sabha face
 criminal charges.
India can boastfully claim itself as the world’s largest democracy, but cannot stake a claim to be the greatest democracy of unblemished representatives. Because, there is a steady and undeterred increase over the years in the number of candidates in the elections, whether for Parliament or the State assemblies, with criminal cases against them. It is a shame that 30% of the members of the Lok Sabha in 2009 had criminal cases against them, which scourge went up to 34% in 2014, and has further reached an alarming level of 43% as regards the elected members of the 17th Lok Sabha in 2019. The severity of the malignancy can be better understood from the frightening picture that 29% of those elected to the Lok Sabha in 2019 have declared serious crimes.

Reasons for Criminalization in Politics 

1. Corruption- In every election all parties without exception put up candidates with a criminal background. Even though some of us whine about the decision taken by the parties, the general trend is that these candidates are elected to office.By acting in such a manner, we fail to realize that the greatest power that democracy arms the people is to vote incompetent people out of power. 

2. Criminality and Winnability - The evident link between criminality and the probability of winning is further reinforced when we look at the winnability of a candidate.While any random candidate has one in eight chances of winning a Lok Sabha seat, a candidate facing criminal charges is twice as likely to win as a clean candidate.

3. Vote bank- The political parties and independent candidates have astronomical expenditure for vote buying and other illegitimate purposes through these criminals or so called goondas. A politician’s link with their constituency provides a congenial climate to political crime.Majority of the voters are manoeuvrable, purchasable. Most of them are individually timid and collectively cowards. To gain their support is easier for the corrupt.

4. Lack of Governance- The root of the problem lies in the country’s poor governance capacity. On the one hand, India has excessive procedures that allow the bureaucracy to insert itself in the ordinary life of people; on the other hand, it appears woefully understaffed to perform its most crucial functions.

5. Denial of Justice and Rule of Law- The voters, political parties and the law and order machinery of the state are all equally responsible for this. There is very little faith in India in the efficacy of the democratic process in actually delivering good governance. This extends to accepting criminalization of politics as a fact of life.Toothless laws against convicted criminals standing for elections further encourage this process. Under current law, only people who have been convicted on at least two counts be debarred from becoming candidates. This leaves the field open for charge sheeted criminals, many of whom are habitual offenders or history-sheeters.

As Indian law does not bar individuals who have criminal cases pending against them from contesting the elections, those facing trial even for serious crimes find free to contest. As the Indian judiciary is also already overburdened and can take years to resolve a case, every political party in the country feels emboldened to unhesitatingly and unashamedly field any number of candidates with a criminal record if their chances of winning are bright.
          - रचित


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