New Delhi

Political parties need to be democratic and transparent in their activities if people with a criminal background are to be kept out of the political process.

This was the common view of people taking part in a meeting organized here on Sunday by Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) and Gujarat Election Watch (GEW).

The ADR, which has been working for political and electoral reforms in the country, had launched GEW ahead of the 2002 elections.

Speakers at Sunday’s meeting said that people of Gujarat should put pressure on political parties to disclose their criteria for selection of candidates.

This will not only promote greater transparency in the electoral process but also prevent the entry into politics of people with a criminal background, the speakers said.

“Out of the 182 MLAs in Gujarat assembly, 44 have criminal cases against them. This is 24% of the total strength of the house. Out of these 44 MLAs, 14 have serious criminal cases against them. These figures are alarming,” said Jagdeep Chhokar, member of GEW and ADR.

Chhokar, a retired professor of IIMA, is among the 11 founder-members of GEW and ADR.

“Political parties should take a decision not to field candidates with a criminal record and they should stick to it,” Chhokar said.

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