Do India's political parties condone corruption?

 
India parliament Nearly a third of Indian MPs face criminal charges

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A panel reviewing India's laws on sex crimes after the fatal gang rape of a student has highlighted the problem of criminalisation of politics and asked lawmakers facing severe charges to voluntarily quit as a mark of respect to the parliament and the constitution.

Last year, India's most respected election watchdog Association for Democratic Reforms informed us that nearly a third of MPs - 158 of 543 - in the parliament faced criminal charges.

New research has now thrown up more bad news.

After examining affidavits filed by candidates to the Election Commission at the time of contesting elections, the watchdog found that a third of all lawmakers at the centre and all states - or 1,448 of 4,835 - faced criminal charges.

A total of 641 declared serious criminal cases like rape, murder, attempt to murder, kidnapping, robbery and extortion, among other things.

The watchdog also found that 98 candidates facing corruption cases were given tickets by various political parties during general and state elections in the last five years. Thirty-six of them have won the polls. They include seven MPs and 29 state legislators.

All parties appear to be responsible for this disturbing state of affairs.

The Congress party, which has promised people stronger anti-corruption laws, actually gave tickets to 24 candidates facing corruption charges in general and state assembly polls in the last five years.

The main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) gave tickets to five such candidates. Six key regional parties gave away tickets to 35 such candidates.

During the last general elections alone, 15 candidates with corruption cases against them were given tickets by political parties - the Congress party awarded four such candidates.

There's more.

A total of 80 candidates facing corruption charges have been given tickets by political parties in elections to state assemblies in the last five years. Twenty-nine of them have won the elections and are currently serving as lawmakers.

The majority (eight) belong to the Congress party, and most of the winners (seven) are from the southern state of Tamil Nadu.

All this makes for very depressing news. It also makes many wonder whether India's political parties can ever be serious about fighting corruption when they condone it so openly.

When will they stop giving tickets to candidates facing criminal and corruption charges? What about "fast-tracking" the cases against MPs and legislators facing these charges? The political class is totally silent on these matters.

 
Soutik Biswas Article written by Soutik Biswas Soutik Biswas Delhi correspondent

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  • rate this
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    Comment number 119.

    Soutik, I think Indian political parties are more interested in managing corruption rather than effecting any real change. The stats you provide are horrific and even the anti-corruption movements in India, regardless of how moving they might be - http://b24.in/20130198/corruption-in-india/ have not really proven very effective in driving sustainable change through legal channels.

  • rate this
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    Comment number 118.

    Cont.116.
    Check- "Are Republicans the 'stupid party'?- http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-21203235 & lengthy discussion there.

    The policy paralysis in US, almost total break down of trust between 2 parties, extreme polarization of electorate did not happen in one day.

    Yes, '"some are a real joke". But the concern is- many are getting away with it- as routinely happens in India.

  • rate this
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    Comment number 117.

    @Ram Chopra, Jay - I think you cannot compare the American leadership with the Indians. There's a very real accountability in place in the US, and the more high profile you are in politics, the greater the fall if you get caught doing something dodgy. If you look at South African leaders - e.g. http://www.wonkie.com/tag/corruption-in-south-africa/ you'd have a much better comparison with India!

  • rate this
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    Comment number 116.

    @ Ram (109). "BUT worse than its past ones" - I disagree.
    ##
    Previously US media & corporate propaganda played a major role to build image/myth around its leaders (again, don't compare with the extent with India). Now US politicians are more exposed to pubic. Many started believing that GOP is no more a serious political party but an activist group with dubious racist, fanatic, violent agendas.

  • rate this
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    Comment number 115.

    It will be interesting to see if there is any change with Rahul Gandhi in the Congress VP seat - http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-india-21115634 - he made quite a big deal of who will get to ride on political tickets and who will not based on their records.

    I have to say the stats you mention are not very encouraging.

  • rate this
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    Comment number 114.

    The biggest need in my mind in India today is teaching -"Treat others the way you would like to be treated" Teach it in schools, in offices and daily life. Acclaim it everywhere as a sign of public health, - on billboards, on TV on Trains and Buses. I will teach it in schools as a play game. And teach- " See Something - Do Something"

  • rate this
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    Comment number 113.

    @112 Continued -- Money has limited to no role for election of the individual MP/MLA. Money is needed for meeting parties daily expenses of its volunteers and bill boards. Under these conditions I see no reasons to befriend a bad character. My father tought me to stay away from bad guys lest you become their target some day. I see no reason to give tickets to criminals.

  • rate this
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    Comment number 112.

    In India MPs, MLAs get elected because of the party banner they are on. Only few exceptions. So high commands tend to have some leverage on the elected, if not then you would have " Aya Ram/Gaya Ram". 5 Years is an ample time for MPs and MLAs to establish their own identify and their record. Money has limited to no role for election of the individual MP/MLA. Continued

  • rate this
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    Comment number 111.

    The difference between Good and evil as much between God and Devil; the 2 logical points in mind-set; the Good is what is visible as such desirable; in this case 'democracy' the means to make people have their say in state Governance. The evil is how to make use of that desirable process and beat the approach to take advantage to fulfill self-interest. The evil remain shrouded with flavor of Good.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 110.

    @ 106 Jay "Protest for recent rape is just a temporary infatuation" - I agree, I fear that. If you and the educated class continues its pressure on the news media to cover issues/problems/weaknesses exposed by this episode, tomorrow will be a bright day indeed. Nothing in this episode got exposed that we did not know already.

  • rate this
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    Comment number 109.

    @99 Jay-"Quality of average US politicians is far better than India - I agree. This due to their exposure. Some of them are a real joke. Keep in mind 80% get reellected.
    "BUT worse than its past ones" - I disagree. Leaders are made by the challenges they come up against. Johnson, Nixon, Carter, Clinton, Reagan, and now Obama are great in their own right with their own fallacies.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 108.

    And the decision making by so-called "high command" may not necessarily related to national/public interest, but well to serve individual(s) or dynasty/ies or industrial group(s).

    That's why so many join parliamentary committees find it too difficult to function. Resulting more frustration & walk-outs.

    Can our parties stop issuing "whips" AND reaching conclusions before investigations start?

  • rate this
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    Comment number 107.

    The simple reason for "majority MPs/MLAs r more interested to abuse & walk-outs than any civilized, logical debate" (#.78), that they (mainly belonging to ruling party) were already informed a decision by party high command. Now they have only one agenda- to implement that with or without others' help or by horse trading. So least interested in any discussion & democratic decision making.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 106.

    @ Ram (104).
    Protest for recent rape is just a temporary infatuation, "feel good"- just like Anna issue. I'm not very optimistic on that for any sustainable reform.

    I pin more hope on internet/info dissemination, Anna-Kejriwals, Naxals & total anarchy to see when people get really fed up. It seems that we r yet to decline further before we start climbing. That'll be very sad day for our 'elites'!

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 105.

    India's political, bureaucratic, even private business "elites" hardly know democratic decision making. They can't plan & learn (unless forced), mostly reactive than pro-active. They work more like feudal lords.
    Whole country runs on ad-hoc basis WITHOUT much long term plan & systemic accountability. No wonder NOT A SINGLE high profile scams were detected & prevented by internal mechanism.

  • rate this
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    Comment number 104.

    In India governance is poor. The recent Rape incident should be an eye opener to Educated and Successful class - How with their participation and searchlight on the performance of Police, Justice, News Media, Bureaucracy and others, they are responding. I prey this continues.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 103.

    @ Ram (102).
    Yes, every country in world faced the same- as human civilization started just few thousands yrs ago. Some r more successful to do it better &/or faster.
    Indian politicians do NOT ask or seem to need public feedback or support. Interested only in vote & "yes sir"s. Politics is more of a business there.

    BTW, can U stick to the topic than bringing new issues without answering my Qs?

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 102.

    @95,97 Jay. "BTW, don't compare US with India".
    America has gone thru same problems as India-poverty,inequality, corruption, racial/caste and so on. The difference is why it takes longer in India. Politicians can make all the laws they want without public backing/support success is hard to achieve. Lincoln passed "Negro Emancipation", yet it took 100+ years to deliver it to African Americans.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 101.

    @ Ram (91). Politicians r blamed & condemned for all that ails in India
    ##
    Do you think that is unjustified?
    Tell the politicians NOT to mess up with each & every issue! Can we discuss ANY issue, be it education-research, games-sports, creative art (movie, book etc) without getting into politics? NO.

    I believe that almost everything, including education, is ruined by political interference there.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 100.

    @ Ram (98). Quoting from one of my publications-

    "Developing countries like India that have fewer resources need
    to learn from both the successes & mistakes of more successful countries like USA. Ignoring their mistakes will be no less fatal. India needs to prepare itself to adopt the changing world where there
    will be no science superpower to follow."

    Replace science with society/politics!

 

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