Times of India

NAGPUR: Criminalisation of politics has been a fact of Indian life. Every party- national, regional or local- has criminals amongst its ranks. Parties shamelessly field them and, even more depressingly, we elect them. The criminals end up making laws for the country.

According to National Election Watch (NEW), an umbrella organisation of more than 1,200 NGOs, a majority of political parties continue to field the candidates with criminal background. They continue to ignore repeated citizens' demand for cleaner candidates. NEW is known for its public interest litigation on which Supreme Court on March 13, 2003, made disclosure of criminal, educational and financial background of candidates mandatory.

The NEW's Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) has so far done a detailed analysis of 880 candidates in Maharashtra out of total 3,559 in the fray on the basis of affidavits filed by them along with nomination papers. Among them, 31% i.e. 276 candidates were found to have several offences registered against them. "There's an urgent need for discussion on this. Why do these parties keep giving tickets to criminals," asked ADR national coordinator Anil Bairwal while talking to reporters on Monday.

He said the ADR had done election watches for all assembly and Lok Sabha polls with an objective of strengthening democracy and governance in India by focusing on fair and transparent electoral and political processes. During the survey carried out in 55 constituencies of 11 districts in Vidarbha, 45 out of 114 candidates were found to have criminal background which amount to 39%. Similarly, in an analysis of 45 candidates from 12 constituencies in Nagpur district, 17 were found to have criminal records. This means 38% of candidates had offences against them in various police stations.

Among them there are many renowned names. Nagpur West constituency from where state minister Anees Ahmed is fighting tops the list with all the three top candidates analysed found having criminal records.

"At least 161 MPs in current Lok Sabha involving all major parties have criminal backgrounds. Thus all tall claims made by party leaders like Rahul Gandhi that no criminal will be given the ticket have been exposed," Bairwal revealed. Bairwal concluded with a call to the citizens not to vote for criminals if they wanted stability, security and prosperity.

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