Satyamev Jayate - Jinhe Desh Ki Fikr Hai

Power to you

Know a little more about the criminalization of Indian politics. Here is some information that can help you get a better perspective.


Power to you


Make the ballot stronger than the bullet Back

In a representative democracy, we invest faith in our elected representatives. But what happens when instead of upholding the law, our representatives themselves violate it? Of the 543 Members of Parliament elected in the 2009 general elections, as many as 30% have pending criminal cases against them, some for serious crimes like murder, kidnapping, human trafficking, dacoity and rape. That's 162 MPs voted in by us, the people of India!

Researchers say that as the severity of the charges increases, the likelihood of candidates winning elections also goes up. The careers of upstanding politicians, on the other hand, seem to be doomed from the very beginning; sometimes, they even end in death at the hands of their rivals. Citizens too have lost their lives because of criminal politicians, and their families are still waiting for justice. What then explains the electorate's decision to bring a criminal candidate to power?

One reason is the intimidation of the voting public. In the mid-1970s, politicians would hire local thugs or bahubalis who 'captured' booths during election time. They would hold the booth's presiding officers at gunpoint and forcefully tip the votes in favour of the party that hired them. Over time, these thugs decided to contest elections themselves, thereby ensuring the direct entry of criminals into politics. Another reason is that these politicians were able to win by controlling the votes of the castes or communities they belonged to.

With the Election Commission cracking down on the blatant use of muscle power and people resisting it as well, criminal politicians today have adopted newer methods. They are now using money power, and distributing cash, saris, food, liquor and other consumer goods. Voters, even from the middle class, accept these 'gifts' in exchange for their votes. In short, the vote is bought and sold!

The question we must ask ourselves is: Can we expect honest governance from such criminalized candidates, especially when votes are being bought and sold? By selling our votes we are jeopardizing our basic democratic right: the right to vote. Shouldn't politicians charged with crimes be denied tickets by political parties who claim to represent the interests of the people? Shouldn't candidates charged with crimes be disqualified from running for elections as the Election Commission has proposed?

The general elections of 2014 are just around the corner. In the 66th year of our independence, we must take an oath not to sell our votes and our self-respect, not to vote in the name of caste, creed or religion. Instead, we must choose those candidates who are committed to a corruption-free and crime-free society.



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