Source: 
INDOlink
http://www.indolink.com/displayArticleS.php?id=073013095752
Date: 
30.07.2013
City: 
New Delhi

Bangalore: Nowadays, most Indian politicians hardly join politics for the sake of ‘Samaj Seva’ and instead venture into this field as a means to multiply their income and assets by manifolds in a short span of time. As such the country sees many candidates with criminal charges who have greater chances of winning an election as compared to clean candidates, said an analysis carried out by the Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) and National Election Watch (NEW). 

ADR and NEW analyzed a total of 62, 847 candidates who contested either Parliamentary or State Assembly Elections since 2004 and noted that the candidates had average assets of 1.37 crore while the candidates who won elections had an average wealth of Rs 3.83 crore, which is almost double the total assets.

It is outrageous to know that the legislators who faced severe criminal cases are not just likely to get elected in the second term but even their wealth is likely to increase after a five-year term by up to 1000 percent. Most MPs and MLAs who faced serious pending charges like murder, kidnapping and rape came on top of the list with average assets of Rs 4.38 crore. Jagdeep Chhokar, founding member of ADR and NEW stated, "When we filed an RTI with the Income Tax department asking about the actions taken by them against those people whose wealth has shown an abnormal increase. Their reply simply was that we have done the needful as per the laid down procedure."

Since 2004, a total of 11063 or 18 percent out of the 62847 candidates have declared criminal cases against themselves while 5,253 or 8 percent have declared being involved in ‘serious’ criminal cases. ADR's Professor Trilochan Shastry said, "Criminalization is a fact which can't be denied. Money plays a big role in elections and criminalization makes it worse." The ADR analysis also exposed that the criminal records of 4,181 repeat candidates shows that 1,072 of them had a criminal case the first time they contested an election and 788 had cases the second time too. This confirmed that political parties gave tickets to 74 percent of candidates who had criminal records the second time despite being aware of their criminal background.

For such candidates, re-contesting an election means increasing their wealth. Out of the 4,181 candidates who contested more than one election, 3,173 showed an increase in assets. On the other hand, the average assets of re-contesting candidates rose up to Rs 2.34 crore and the average assets of the 4,181 candidates with criminal record grew from Rs 1.74 crore to Rs 4.08 crore.

"This is clearly an abnormal increase in wealth," added Trilochan Sastry, the Founder of ADR and NEW. 75 percent of Shiv Sena legislators since the year 2004 have declared criminal cases against them, while 46 percent of Rashtriya Janata Dal and with 44 percent of Janata Dal (United) havesuch kind of candidates. The Bharatiya Janata Party and the ruling Congress party were at 31 percent and 22 percent respectively.

The country still faces a shortage of candidates with a clean background and so such a person has just 12 percent chance of winning an election whereas there is 23 percent chance of someone with serious criminal record winning an election.

The research was conducted by the Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) and National Election Watch (NEW) based on the affidavit filed by the candidates during the Parliamentary and Assembly elections between 2004 and 2013.

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