New Delhi: Out of 1,356 MLAs all over India with declared criminal cases, 128 MLAs have declared cases related to electoral malpractices such as bribery, undue influence or personation at an election, illegal payments in connection with elections.

Pic Courtesy: Web/

According to the recent report by Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR), out of these 128 MLAs, 44(34%) are from the Southern region. Among these 44 MLAs, 20 are from Karnataka, 11 from Tamil Nadu, 6 from Telangana, 5 from Andhra Pradesh and 2 from Puducherry. 

Speaking to Eenadu India, Anil Verma, Head, National Election Watch (NEW), ADR said that the election commission cannot take action on these issues because there is no bar on contesting elections by candidates charged with criminal cases. 

He said: 

  • The election commission has been making a number of recommendations to the government in this regard but none of them has been accepted
  • When cognisance of an offence is taken and if it is punishable with imprisonment of more than two years, then the person charged should not be allowed to contest elections
  • It is ironical to note that 41(93%) out of 44 MLAs (charged with electoral malpractices) have won with more than 40% of vote share in their respective constituencies
  • Voters have no say on the person who has been given a ticket to contest an election
  • There is no concept of popularity vote or collegium in our country under which unless a candidate gets 25% of the votes in the primary phase, he is not given the ticket

Verma went on to add, "In our system, the supremo of the party gets to decide on the ticket distribution, wherein voter does not have a say and for a political party, winnability is the most important factor." The possible solution that civil society proposes is that there is a need for NOTA to be taken to the next level. 
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There is a recommendation that if a number of NOTA votes in a particular constituency exceed the votes garnered by the candidate with largest number of votes; the constituency will have re-elections and none of those candidates who got lesser votes than that of NOTA should be allowed to contest. 
Anil Verma believes that NOTA was introduced by the Supreme Court to exert pressure on political parties but it's not working the way it is now. 

As per the ADR report, only MLAs of Kerala have shown that they have spent more than 50 % of the expenditure limit. "It reflects that expenditure are under-reported by the candidates." 28 Lakhs is the permissible expenditure limit. 

Anil Verma said, "Candidates from the other big states Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, etc., show only 12-13 lakhs as their election expenditure. It is common knowledge that black money and illicit activities go on during the elections which are not reported by the candidates because of the monitoring done by the election commission."

ADR and NEW recently analysed the election expenditure and vote share of 907 out of 922 MLAs from southern states such as Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Karnataka, Kerala, Tamil Nadu and a Union Territory Puducherry.

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