The Sentinel

A news item on the front page of this newspaper, quoting an analysis conducted by an organization called Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) has said that nine out of 14 winners with declared criminal cases have won in the recent Manipur Assembly elections. This news comes close on the heels of another news item published by several newspapers across the country, according to which 50 per cent of the MLAs who have won the recent State Assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh had declared criminal cases in their affidavits. This means every second MLA elected to the 18th UP Legislative Assembly has a criminal background. In Uttar Pradesh, 205 out of 403 successful candidates have declared criminal cases against them, with an analysis provided by ADR saying that among them, 158 MLAs or 39% of winning candidates have serious criminal cases, including murder, attempt to murder, kidnapping, crimes against women etc. Looking back, one finds that the same organization Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) had, after the declaration of results for the Assam Legislative Assembly election in 2021, stated that 34 of 126 winning candidates had declared criminal cases against them. Of the 34 MLAs with criminal cases elected to the Assam Assembly in 2021, as many as 28 MLAs had declared serious criminal cases related to murder, attempt to murder and also crimes against women. An analysis report released soon after the Lok Sabha elections of 2019 had said that out of the 539 winners analysed, as many as 233 MPs had declared criminal cases against themselves. This is an increase of 44 per cent in the number of MPs with declared criminal cases since 2009. Dean Kuriakose, a Congress MP from Kerala in the present Lok Sabha had, in his affidavit stated that there were 204 criminal cases against him. These analyses do not convey any good news. Rather they indicate that (i) more and more persons with criminal records are joining politics, and that (ii) persons with criminal records are getting more preference as candidates nominated by different political parties. It is a sad commentary on the health of our democracy.

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