Crime does not pay … as well as politics. And murder is the flavour of Ulta Pulta Pradesh. It is new political season with parties getting their arsenal ready for the mother of all electoral battles: 403 Assembly seats up for grabs early 2017 wherein thousands of our criminal-politicos are vying for the “bullet-proof jackets” – MLAs tag.

This chilling reality hit the eye when UP dreaded mafia don-turned MLA Mukhtar Ansari merged his Quami Ekta Dal and became part of Mulayam’s Samajwadi Parivar last week.  No matter that Ansari marks time in Lucknow jail, his brother and confidant were soon to be inducted in Aklishesh’s Cabinet. A perfect quid pro quo as the QED helped Samajwadi candidates get elected to the Legislative Council and Rajya Sabha in the recent polls. 

But the deal went sour when Chief Minister Akhilesh put his foot down and said no to the merger, but in vain. Where power translates into a numbers game wherein it is imperative for parties to field mafia dons as they convert their muscle power into votes, often at gun point with illicit funds to buy votes and loyal supporters and emerge victorious than candidates with a clean record. 

Why do mafia dons invest large sums in getting a neta’s tag? It is a ticket to continue extortions using political power, gain influence and ensure that cases against them are dropped.  Cold Government statistics are on my side that shows that politics has nothing to do with morality and accountability. Crime is now politics and criminalisation of politics is the current dispensation. Turn to any part of the country, politico-criminals are now ruling the roost. 

How commonplace is the mixing of crime and politics can be gauged from  the fact there are 13 ‘criminals’ out of 45 Cabinet Ministers who adorn India’s Treasury Benches facing charges including rape, attempted murder and criminal intimidation. Uma Bharti has 13 criminal cases and Nitin Gadkari four cases, including one alleging criminal intimidation.

An analysis of 541 of the 543 winning candidates by Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) shows that 186 (34%) of MPs in Parliament have confessed in their election affidavits that they have criminal cases against them. In the 2009 Lok Sabha, the figure was 158 (30%) and 128 in 2004-09. 

Of these 63 belong to the BJP, 44 from Congress, 18 Shiv Sena, 8 AITC and three from AIADMK. And 112 have serious criminal cases, including murder (9), attempt to murder (17), communal disharmony (16), kidnapping and dacoity (10) and crimes against women (2). 

Worse is the situation in the States. Shockingly, Jharkhand has the highest percentage 74% of MLAs with cases pending (55 out of 74 MLAs), Bihar 58% and UP with 47%. More scandalous, Parties present an ugly picture. The JMM accounts for 82 %, RJD 64% SP 48%, BJP 31% and Congress 21% of criminal MPs and MLAs.’

Consider also: criminals have been elected from prison. Some continue to rule their empire from jails, hold durbars, instruct their minions by cellphones and issue diktats that few dare disobey. Some take anticipatory bail to avoid arrest. Others find it easier to abscond while some “surrender", engaging clever lawyers to argue their case!

Alas, the number of mafiaso-politicos are rapidly multiplying in legislatures ushering in a new don (read dawn) wherein an MP and MLA tag, acts like a magic shield from police, encounters and rivals. Whereby with criminals banne netas democracy is being boxed in three stages – mafia box, cartridge box and ballot box! 

Scandalously, bringing things to such a pass that criminal are slowly but surely crowding out non-criminal candidates both at the national and State level. According to a recent report candidates with a “clean image” had a 7% chance of success, whereas those accused of major and minor crimes had success rates of 25-19% respectively.

Most distressing is that it doesn’t strike any chord any where. With every passing election, the phenomenon of criminals-turned-politicos no longer shocks or causes mass protests. It is slowly becoming an accepted norm, part of one’s routine. 

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