food for thought
On April 4, people of Assam will be voting in the first phase of elections to choose their representatives. Of the 539 candidates who will be in fray for 65 seats, 30 candidates have declared crimil cases against themselves in their affidavits. Of them, 25 are facing serious crimil cases including murder, attempt to murder, kidpping and crimes against women. In three constituencies Karimganj North, Soi and Hailakandi, voters will have to ponder over 3-4 candidates with crimil cases. There are allegations that some other candidates have not revealed crimil cases against them in their affidavits to the Election Commission. So who will dare to probe their shady backgrounds and lodge complaints? Most major parties espousing high democratic ideals have not thought twice about giving tickets to people with crimil backgrounds. Ostensibly, such people have been given candidature on the basis of their potential to win. But on the ground, such cynicism by political parties reinforces the belief that it is money and muscle power that can bring in the needed votes. After this alysis by the Association for Democratic reforms (ADR), public focus will shift to candidates for the second phase. But such worrisome figures form part of a pattern revealed over the past years. In a tiol survey by the ADR and tiol Election Watch (NEW), it came to light that every third MP elected to the Lok Sabha had crimil cases lodged against them, as per their own disclosures to the EC. In fact, the percentage of such legislators actually increased from 30 percent in the 2009 Lok Sabha to 34 percent in the 2014 (present) Lok Sabha. Another ADR alysis in 2009 showed that if there is a murder case against one person against 1,016 persons in the general populace, the corresponding figure is a murder case against one among every 30 MPs. One JMM lawmaker had declared as many as 10 murder cases against himself all pending for an average 12 years! Similarly, there was a kidpping/dacoity/rioting case against one among every 54 MPs. What is more, 74 percent of candidates with crimil records were given tickets for the second time by party leaders aware of their murky backgrounds. Most parties brush away crimil charges against their lawmakers by terming these to be ‘politically motivated’. Thus it is the responsibility of voters to carefully check the antecedents of representatives they vote for.