The Times of India
New Delhi

NEW DELHI: At least one candidate with pending criminal charges was in the running in 450 of the 545 Lok Sabha constituencies during the 2009 general election. This indicates that the Supreme Court order that disqualifies candidates who've been convicted could have far-reaching repercussions on the electoral process.

Data analysed by the Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) says that 150 constituencies had a single candidate with pending criminal charges while as many as 56 constituencies had five or more candidates who were "tainted". The study is based on affidavits submitted by candidates ahead of the 2009 Lok Sabha polls.

Despite the dominance of muscle-power in our legislatures , voters have shown discretion in choosing wisely. The study points out that given a choice in the constituencies that had only one candidate with pending criminal charges, voters rejected tainted candidates, and chose 83% of the clean candidates.

The percentage of clean winners, however, drops to around 35% in constituencies with more than 5 tainted candidates.

Data provided by these politicos in their election affidavits show that 30% have criminal cases pending against them and 14% are fighting cases that fall under serious criminal offences, most with potential sentences of over five years. We aren't talking here of any minor crimes, these MPs are accused of murder, rape, forgery, inciting hate and dubious deals: fraud and cheating.

State assemblies are no better. About 1,258 (31 %) out of the 4,032 sitting MLAs from all state assemblies have declared criminal cases and 15% have declared serious criminal charges.

Among political parties, BJP leads the charge with 118 (12%) of its elected representatives having declared that they are booked under serious criminal charges. Keeping the saffron brigade company in the accusedof-serious-crime bracket is the Congress with 107 (8%) of its MPs and MLAs fighting murder, forgery, kidnap, rape charges among others.

Legislators from parties such as Shiv Sena and Raj Thackeray's MNS , Shibu Soren'sJharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM), the Telangana Rashtra Samiti , and the lesser-knownJharkhand Vikas Morcha (Prajatantrik ) started by ex-CM Babulal Marandi have most of their elected representatives facing criminal cases. Eight of JVM (P)'s 11 legislators are accused of criminal activities, while 77% to 80 % of elected Shiv Sainiks have criminal cases against them. JMM tops, or bottoms out, this list with 80 % of its elected members waiting for courts to take a call.

Looking at the data state-wise, Karnataka's 2013 polls saw the state's tally of tainted MPs plus MLAs at 74, while over half of Bihar assembly (58 %) qualifies to be in the tainted bracket. Gujarat's 2012 polls saw its tainted MP-MLA count reach 57, that is 31 % of the total from the state. On this count, 47% of legislators from Uttar Pradesh (state polls held in 2012) have declared criminal cases, Uttarakhand (which also went to polls in 2012) has 29 % elected politicos with pending criminal cases.

The only good news from states that held elections in 2012 is Mizoram , where none of the 60 elected MPs and MLAs have any criminal cases against them.

Dirty picture: A look at the political parties with significant number of MPs and MLAs with serious criminal cases against them that invite over two years of prison. Also featured, smaller parties that top the MPs-with-criminal-cases chart by percentage.

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