The present Lok Sabha has the highest number of MPs with criminal cases against them. One-third of the MPs face serious criminal charges. All the MPs of Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD – Bihar), 15 out of the 18 MPs of Shiv Sena (Maharashtra), and 4 out of the 5 MPs of Nationalist Congress Party (NCP – Maharashtra) are people with criminal records. More than one-third of the BJP’s new MPs face criminal charges most of which are very serious. The Congress Party fares better with 7% of its MPs facing serious charges while there are minor charges against 18%. Maharashtra, Bihar and Uttar Pradesh have contributed most of these criminals to the 16th Lok Sabha.
These MPs are very wealthy too. 82% of all the present MPs had assets worth over ₹1 crore each in 2014 (when they were elected). Wealth does play a significant role in making politics criminal. Criminals enter politics precisely because they bring wealth with them to the political parties. Parties sell ‘tickets’ to candidates who are willing to pay the highest price. The wealthy criminals have a lot of black money and hence they are ready to pay enormous amounts to the political party provided they can win a seat in the Parliament or the Legislative Assembly. The party is happy to get the funds.
Political power is the best means for whitening black money as well as erasing criminal records. Add religion to it, and the mix is headier than what one can imagine. While political power enables one to float above all legal structures in the county, religion sanctifies one’s actions. Mass murders, for example, become holy acts when they are given religious colours. Forget minor crimes such as mafia attacks.
Are Indians fools to elect such people to power? The question is raised by the latest edition of Indispire (a forum of Indiblogger, a community of Indian bloggers). The answer is both yes and no. Yes, because the people can choose to say no to these candidates if they want. No, because the people have very little choice: most candidates are criminals irrespective of the party – the range and degree of the crimes may vary, that’s all.
Politics in India today is a criminal activity, in short. India stands terribly in need of a leader with a vision who can clean up the entire system. Unfortunately the country shows no sign of any such visionary leader. We are condemned to be ruled by criminals as long as we don’t learn the other available alternative: question the leaders when they fail to deliver. Our television news channels are doing a great job at this. But the fate of NDTV shows that the channels won’t be able to go very far. If a leading national channel is unable to lead a fight against political crimes, who can?