In Indian parlance, “Jan Sewa” or service of the public is the sole purpose of contesting elections for the State Legislatures and the Parliament. Perhaps, a defeat in elections normally sends the looser into a sort of compunction, again – in Indian parlance that perhaps means denial to the candidate having opportunity to do “Jan Sewa”. But in fact, it very rarely is the case and that is the perversion and the confusion of our democracy. The end to the extreme is when we have some law makers as facing charges of crimes against the women. Perhaps, they are there because of taking refuge under the principle “innocent till proven guilty” and this “till” gets stretched and very often, turns into his one or two terms as an MLA or an MP, enjoying everything with tax payers’ money.
What is the rationale behind giving tickets by the respective parties to such people with declared cases related to crimes against the women? It is the gamble of winning the election which in the present day is cut throat race to reach to the highest and otherwise august democratic institutions; their respective political parties choose them to contest. And they normally win, which is astonishing and baffling .Why should they be voted for, in spite of wearing an undesirable tag? While we blame such “candidate” agreeing to contest, again equally we blame the Party giving the ticket but doubly we must blame the voters who elect such people. The greatest power or the discretion of choice which democracy bestows upon a voter is thus grossly misused.
We have, as on date, 48 such law makers, 3 MPs and 45 MLAs having declared cases related to crimes against the women. The BJP tops the list with highest number of such politicians at 12, Shiv Sena follows with 7, the Trinamool Congress 6 .The remaining 23 ones are related to other parties, the breakup of which the agency , i.e; Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) has not made available. We cannot draw any solace nor have reason to feel complacent, by saying just 3 MPs and paltry figure of 45 MLAs – on two counts. One, even if negligible to total law makers, this number is symbolic of the faulty electoral system and two, these figures are only about crimes against women , the number could be more when other crimes are taken into consideration.
State wise break up too is interesting. Maharashtra has 12 , followed by West Bengal 11, Odisha and Andhra Pradesh each with 5 Lawmakers respectively. The report is based on an analysis of 4845 out of 4896 election affidavits filed by current Lawmakers. In other words, 768 out of 776 affidavits of MPs and 4077 out of 4120 MLAs from the entire country.
One of the foremost electoral reforms would be debarring such candidates who are having criminal cases pending from contesting any election. Alternately, the rule should be to put their cases on a fast track and decided upon in a time bound manner. Let there be proper legislation in this regard as well.
It is no service to sustenance of democracy or upholding the dignity of the august house(s) to give tickets to candidates with cases of crime against women like assault of women with intent to outrage modesty, kidnapping, abducting or inducing and compelling to marriage and the most reprehensible crime of rape and, therefore, undermining the dignity and the safety of women as equal citizens of this country. When cases are backed by charge sheets and courts having taken due cognizance , it looks ludicrous that almost all political parties overlook this most crucial point and are liberal in granting party tickets to such politicians. If it is said that such a policy, driven solely by the piquancy of winning a seat is tantamount to abetment of such crime, it would not be any sort of exaggeration.
Crime and politics cannot go together. Crime has its resting and cooling place behind the bars only while politics has its work field in political institutions. Politicians have the feeling of the highest degree of responsibility and an avowed accountability ultimately towards the people. It is , therefore, a natural corollary that impeccable honesty , integrity , a clean image , being always at peoples’ service etc must be the basic eligibility criteria of an aspirant MP , MLA and the like.