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India’s Criminal Escape Artists: HAVE BLOOD ON THEIR HANDS, By Poonam I Kaushish, 28 June, 2016 Print E-mail

Political Diary

New Delhi, 28 June 2016

India’s Criminal Escape Artists


By Poonam I Kaushish


Crime does not pay … as well as politics. And murder is the flavour of Ulta Pulta Pradesh new political season with Parties getting their arsenal ready for the mother of all electoral battles: 403 Assembly seats up for grabs early 2017 wherein thousands of our criminal-politicos are vying for the “bullet-proof jackets” --- MLAs tag.


This chilling reality hit the eye when UP dreaded mafia don-turned MLA Mukhtar Ansari merged his Quami Ekta Dal and became part of Mulayam’s Samajwadi Parivar last week.  No matter that Ansari marks time in Lucknow jail, his brother and confidant were soon to be inducted in Aklishesh’s Cabinet. A perfect quid pro quo as the QED helped Samajwadi candidates get elected to the Legislative Council and Rajya Sabha in the recent polls.


But the deal went sour when Chief Minister Akhilesh put his foot down and say not to the merger on the grounds that criminals not needed to win elections. However, he seems to be an exception specially against the background where power translates into a numbers game wherein it is imperative for parties to field mafia dons as they convert their muscle power into votes, often at gun point with illicit funds to buy votes and loyal supporters and emerge victorious than candidates with a clean record.


Three, Parties secure strategic advantages by nominating criminals in constituencies with a high degree of electoral uncertainty and illiteracy as criminals have a higher capacity to intimidate voters compared to clean netas as there presence depresses electoral turnouts.


Four, they get unlimited funds to fight elections and the criminals protection from the law and respectability in society. Moreover, they are often thought of as Robin Hood figures and are voted for by people hoping to benefit from their political misconduct.


Why do mafia dons invest large sums in getting a neta’s tag? It is a ticket to continue extortions using political power, gain influence and ensure that cases against them are dropped. Thanks to legal delays, often abetted by political pressures, make convictions of resourceful crooks rather rare. Besides, the returns on political investments are so high and profitable that criminals are disinclined to invest in anything else.


Thus, our system has unwittingly created huge incentives for criminals to enter politics. Immortalised by renowned Mumbai mafia don-turned MLA Arun Gawli: “Ab kis ka dam hai ki mujhe encounter me maare. Now no politician can give supari (contract killing) to any police officer or gangster to kill me. Ab mere paas bullet proof jacket hai --- and MLA tag”.


Cold Government statistics are on my side that shows that politics has nothing to do with morality and accountability. Crime is now politics and criminalisation of politics the current dispensation. Turn to any part of the country politico-criminals are now ruling the roost.


How commonplace is the mixing of crime and politics can be gauged from  the fact there are 13 ‘criminals’ out of 45 Cabinet Ministers who adorn India’s Treasury Benches facing charges including rape, attempted murder and criminal intimidation. Uma Bharti has 13 criminal cases and Nitin Gadkari four cases, including one alleging criminal intimidation.


An analysis of 541 of the 543 winning candidates by Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) shows that 186 (34%) of MPs in Parliament have confessed in their election affidavits that they have criminal cases against them. In the 2009 Lok Sabha, the figure was 158 (30%) and 128 in 2004-09.


Of these 63 belong to the BJP, 44 from Congress, 18 Shiv Sena, 8 AITC and three from AIADMK. And 112 have serious criminal cases, including murder (9), attempt to murder (17), communal disharmony (16), kidnapping and dacoity (10) and crimes against women (2).


Worse is the situation in the States. Shockingly, Jharkhand has the highest percentage 74% of MLAs with cases pending (55 out of 74 MLAs), Bihar 58% and UP with 47%. More scandalous, Parties present an ugly picture. The JMM accounts for 82 %, RJD 64% SP 48%, BJP 31% and Congress 21% of criminal MPs and MLAs’.


Consider also: criminals have been elected from prison. Some continue to rule their empire from jails, hold durbars, instruct their minions by cellphones and issue diktats that few dare disobey. Some take anticipatory bail to avoid arrest. Others find it easier to abscond while some “surrender", engaging clever lawyers to argue their case!


Alas, the number of mafiaso-politicos are rapidly multiplying in legislatures ushering in a new don (read dawn) wherein an MP and MLA tag, acts like a magic shield from police, encounters and rivals. Whereby with criminals banne netas democracy is being boxed in three stages --- mafia box, cartridge box and ballot box!


Unreachable by the long arms of the law, they are the law and all-powerful. More shocking our elected jan sevaks now dance to the tune of their underworld benefactors at the cost of the janata, democratic ethos and good governance.


Scandalously, bringing things to such a pass that criminal are slowly but surely crowding out non-criminal candidates both at the national and State level. According to a recent report candidates with a “clean image” had a 7% chance of success, whereas those accused of major and minor crimes had success rates of 25-19% respectively.


Most distressing is that it doesn’t strike any chord any where. With every passing election, the phenomenon of criminals-turned-politicos no longer shocks or causes mass protests. It is slowly becoming an accepted norm, part of one’s routine.


Curse all, but when push comes to shove the majority willingly lumps it. Shrugged of as a price one has to pay for democracy. Simply, because there aren’t any option. One Party’s candidate is a murderer, the next a rapist etc leaving no option but to choose the lesser evil and elect a robber!


Sadly, it is one of the main reasons for the deteriorating law and order situation. It is also a given that the inability of the State to arrest and prosecute politicos with criminal antecedents is primarily because the State is part of the problem and not the solution. Criminals protect the illegitimate interests of politicians and in turn obtain protection from them and their Parties.


Running a parallel Government with established linkages with the bureaucrats, Government functionaries at local levels, politicians, media persons and strategically located individuals while pushing the State apparatus into irrelevance. 


This decrepit state of affairs is essential to the continued criminal hold on legislatures across the country. The tragedy is that the private face of our netas is ugly. It wins hands down over their public mask.


Undeniably, the electorate is collectively dumb. Even after being a 'vibrant' democracy for over seven decades, India still is an 'immature democracy'. How then does one clean the political cesspool? Basically, can criminal-politicos become the bedrock of our Parliamentary democracy?


In the ultimate, in a milieu wherein we are saddled by netagan who are all escape artists who get away with murder, rape and sedition the aam aadmi must not misuse his ‘powerful’ vote, to summon leaders with dark, scary pasts in the highest echelons of power. We need to answer two questions. How many murder charges are required before one is considered unfit to represent the people of India? Are there no honest and capable netas? ---- INFA


(Copyright, India News and Feature Alliance)

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