Criminal charges, it appears, are no bar to an individual’s political career.
A study of electoral affidavits filed during the 2013 Assembly Polls reveals that all the three major parties for the upcoming elections—the ruling Congress, the BJP and the JD(S) are almost equally accommodating.
Association of Democratic Reforms, an NGO which scrutinises electoral processes across India has found that almost a third (32%) of the Congress candidates, who are re-contesting are involved in criminal cases. The BJP fares a little better with 27% of its re-nominees facing criminal charges, while those involved in criminal cases in the JD(S) stands at 29%.
These will include crimes for which maximum does not exceed five years or are bailable and does not include crimes related to violence against women, violation of electoral codes.
The report by ADR further reveal that parties do not mind re-fielding candidates facing ‘serious criminal charges’.
“Generally, serious criminal charges are those involving bribery, corruption, cheating, domestic violence, sexual violence, murder or attempt to murder,” R Balasubramaniam, State Co-ordinator, ADR told TNM.
17% of BJP’s candidates, who are contesting at least for the second time, have been booked for serious criminal charges.
16% of candidates belonging to the Congress and JD(S) are involved in serious criminal cases.
Going by numbers, Congress has the most number of ‘tainted contestants’ with 23, while the BJP and JD(S) have 19 and nine such candidates respectively.
Another finding of this survey is that 91% of candidates belonging to Congress, 87% from BJP, and 79% from JD(S), who are contesting at least for the second time are millionaires.
Here too, the ruling Congress leads the pack with 134 candidates (out of 148 re-contesting MLAs) being millionaires while BJP and JD (S) have 97 (out of 111) and 46 (out of 58) millionaires each.
While the Congress has released a list of candidates for 218 out of 224 seats, BJP and JD(S) have released lists of 154 and 126 nominees respectively.