The role of ‘hate’ in the world of governance and politics seems to be gaining currency, with 58 sitting MLAs and MPs having declared cases related to hate speech. More than half of these (27) elected representatives are from the BJP alone, says a report by the Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR), a non-profit election watchdog.

Among the 58 elected representatives who have declared cases of hate speech, 15 are Lok Sabha MPs, out of which 10 are from the BJP alone.

Among the 43 sitting MLAs booked for hate speeches, 17 are from the BJP, five each from the TRS and AIMIM, including Asaduddin Owaisi, three from TDP, two each from TMC, Congress, JD(U) and Shiv Sena and one each form DMK, BSP, SP and two Independent MLAs.

The sitting MLAs/MPs from other parties who have declared hate-related cases are AIMIM and Telangana Rashtra Samiti (six each), Telugu Desam Party, Shiv Sena (three each), Trinamool Congress, Congress, Independents, Janata Dal (United) with two each and the Assam-based AIDUF, Bahujan Samaj party, DMK, PMK and Samajwadi Party with one elected representative each with hate-related cases.

State-wise, Uttar Pradesh accounts for the highest number (15) of MPs and MLAs with hate related cases. Incidentally, BJP-ruled UP is also the state that recorded the highest number of communal incidents, with a rise of 17% in 2017.

UP is followed by Telangana where 13 sitting MLas/MPs have declared hate-related cases, followed by Karnataka and Maharashtra (five each), Bihar (four), Andhra Pradesh (three), Gujarat, Tamil Nadu, Uttarakhand and West Bengal (two each) and Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Assam and Delhi (one each).

ADR, which analysed the affidavits submitted by the elected candidates to the Election Commission, said it fully supported the Law Commission’s report of March 2017 which suggested amendments to the model code of conduct to include ‘hate speeches’, which pose a “complex challenges to freedom of speech and expression.”

It also called for strict action against candidates giving hate speeches prior and during the elections, and against the elected legislators even after the elections, if found guilty of indulging in ‘hate speech, while suggesting fast-tracking of cases against MPs and MLAs in a time-bound manner.

“ Political parties must not give tickets to candidates who have declared serious criminal cases against themselves,” said ADR.

On the growing use and role of social media platform during elections, the ADR said Internet was  an important tool for disseminating information and opinions, but also served as a platform for disseminating unlawful speech. “Political parties have been misusing the medium for unlawful statements. Hence, it is recommended that such unlawful statements on online platforms should be monitored and if the person found guilty, they should be penalised,” it added.

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