Oman Tribune
New Delhi

NEW DELHI More legislators charged with crimes will sit in new parliament than previously, a democracy watchdog said on Sunday, in a reminder that crime still pays in the world’s largest democracy.

Prime minister-in waiting Narendra Modi, who made fighting graft a central plank of his victorious campaign, won a stunning mandate to govern India by claiming the first clear majority in three decades.

But many of his Bharatiya Janata Party colleagues elected to the new parliament faces serious criminal charges. Four out of the nine legislators who face murder cases come from his party.  Thirty-four per cent of the winners in the election have criminal cases pending against them, four percentage points more than in 2009, analysis of the candidates’ affidavits by the Association for Democratic Reforms found. 

Of that, 21 per cent were charged with serious crimes such as murder, kidnapping and sexual assault, up from 15 per cent in the last election, the group said.

In India, political parties are more likely to field criminals who are able to pay their own way. Election expenses have soared, with as much as $5 billion estimated to have been spent in this election. 

Moreover, criminals are often winners, with voters choosing candidates they think will take care of their parochial interests when the state isn’t able to, analysts say. 

Criminals who have easy access to liquid forms of financing can see politics as a lucrative career.

Separately, about 75 per cent of MPs in the 16th Lok Sabha have at least a graduate degree, while 10 per cent are only matriculates.

This is slightly less than the 15th Lok Sabha (2009-2014) in which 79 per cent had a bachelor’s degree. At the same time, the number of MPs with just a matriculate degree has decreased to 10 per cent from 17 per cent in preceding Lok Sabha, according to a report by PRS Legislative Research. The number of members with a doctoral degree has increased to six per cent in 2014 poll from three per cent in the 15th Lok Sabha.

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