Recently one of the leading English Dailies published the statistic pertaining to the criminal cases being faced by the sitting legislators of Madya Pradesh Vidhan Sabha which has given a glimpse of what is the reality of the political scenario of the Indian electoral system. As per the statistic, out of the total 230 sitting MLAs 94 of them have criminal cases filed against them with 47 of them face serious charges which forms 41% and 21% respectively. A look at the Lok Sabha of the Indian Parliament also shows that out of the 539 winners 233 have declared criminal cases against them which shows an increase of 44% in the number of members of parliament with declared criminal cases since 2009. An interesting and at the same time shocking finding of the Lok Sabha election is that the chances of winning for a candidate with declared criminal cases in the Lok Sabha 2019 is 15.5 per cent whereas for a candidate with a clean background, it is 4.7 per cent. It is most unfortunate that in spite of his past background when a contestant’s nomination as a candidate in the election process is accepted after scrutiny of his application by the Election Commission, his legitimacy to stand in the election is established because there is no law prevailing to debar them from contesting.
What does it indicate? Does it not show the criminalisation of Indian politics? If it is allowed to continue, what is going to be the fate of our nation and the ordinary law-abiding citizens of India? Will our democracy turn into a democracy of the criminals, by the criminals for the criminals? Who is responsible for this sorry and dangerous state of affairs of this endangered democracy? It is pertinent to note that the tainted candidates are being elected through the democratic means after scrutiny by the Election Commission through an electoral process without facing any protest or objection from any quarters and unmindful of their criminal background they are also being elected by the electorate to represent them as members of the legislature assembly and parliament as the case may be and they become the makers of law. Apathy and callousness of the electorate combined with non-participation in the electoral process by a sizable percentage of eligible voters are also one of the primary reasons for the criminalisation of the politics.
“Political language is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable. Politics determines who has the power, not who has the truth”.
Politics as is being practiced now only shows how criminals have sneakily infiltrated in to the politics to destroy the very fabric of the society and the nation. The founding fathers of our Constitution have visualized such a situation many years before the promulgation of the Constitution. CJI Dipak Misra recalled in his judgment on criminals crowding in to politics, how Rajagopalachari had “as back as in 1922, anticipated the present state of affairs 25 years before Independence”. Justice Misra reflected that Rajaji had written in his prison diary that “elections and their corruption, injustice and tyranny of wealth, and inefficiency of administration, will make a hell of life as soon as freedom is given to us…”
Similarly, the judgment quotes Rajendra Prasad, who said, “A Constitution like a machine is a lifeless thing. It acquires life because of the men who control it and operate it, and India needs today nothing more than a set of honest men who will have the interest of the country before them.” Further, it talks about the limitations of a Constitution through the words of B.R. Ambedkar. “A Constitution can provide only the organs of State… The factors on which the working of those organs of the State depend are the people and the political parties they will set up as their instruments to carry out their wishes and their politics. Who can say how the people of India and their parties will behave?” The question raised by Dr. Ambedkar is answered by the criminalization of politics as seen now. Yet no constitutional effective deterrent has been enacted so far to prevent such tainted candidates being elected.
Who is responsible for such a dangerous state of affairs in politics now? Is not giving tickets to tainted candidates by political parties to serve their vested interests and vote bank politics that leads to criminalization of politics? Yes, and it is an undeniable fact. It is the elected representatives of people who are the law makers, create a path to criminalize politics and then condemn their own creation to serve their own purposes. The tirade traded among the political parties about the principles, integrity, ethics and morality is nothing but a sham and not coming out of genuine concern for upholding the democratic values but purely to carry out their respective political agenda. The sole aim of every political party is to usurp political power by any means. Of course, there are exceptional sane voices whose presence is neither felt and nor their voices are being heard effectively.
“In a democracy, supposedly we hold power by what we do at the ballot box, so therefore the more we know about political power the better our choices should be and the better, in theory, our democracy should be”. But the reality is, “However [political parties] may now and then answer popular ends, they are likely in the course of time and things, to become potent engines, by which cunning, ambitious, and unprincipled men will be enabled to subvert the power of the people and to usurp for themselves the reins of government, destroying afterwards the very engines which have lifted them to unjust dominion”. Politics has now become “a strife of interests masquerading as a contest of principles. The conduct of public affairs for private advantage”.
Politics is not an end or a product, but a means and a process. “It is the art of government. Like other values it has its counterfeits. So much emphasis has been placed upon the false that the significance of the true has been obscured and politics has come to convey the meaning of crafty and cunning selfishness, instead of candid and sincere service”. It is an undeniable fact that all political parties are responsible for such a sorry state of criminalisation of politics. The only way such criminalisation can be arrested and eradicated is for all the political parties and also elected independents to take such constitutional steps not to allow any tainted candidates to contest elections, and those after the elections found guilty of any criminal acts are to be removed from their respective responsible positions to face enquiries and their consequences. Besides, any acts of criminal indulgence by anyone within the political domain should be charged and punished. What is needed is political will to enact such legislation without fear or favour to eradicate the criminalisation of the politics.
We, as citizens of India have our duties and responsibilities of casting our vote without fail and electing our representatives who possess the qualities of honesty, integrity, compassion, confidence and flexibility who also will make it a point of responsibility to develop and make life better for people in their units, wards, constituencies, states and regions-we will definitely have a great country. Many attempts in the past have failed. Will the future hold good?