The bigger the criminal, the higher the chances of his winning the election! Wow! Welcome to realpolitik in India! Till late seventies, goons assisted the politicians. Slowly they realized that they too can put on white kurta. Money, muscle power, vote, false vote - everything was being maneuvered by the goons. The politicians were using them. Today, they’ve decided to be the ministers, the MLAs, MPs themselves. They don’t lend their services; they use them for themselves.
In this era of coalition governments, every party is looking for a winnable candidate. The trend is that a criminal who wins in his area belongs to the majority caste of that area. People think, ‘All are criminals; why not choose a criminal of our own caste!’ Criminality has been accepted. Utkarsh Sinha, a journalist said that dons enjoy stories of their horror because it helps them in encashing that fear psychosis at the time of election. In Western UP, a shooter turned MP used to call the newspaper office, ‘No news item on me for days? Should I murder someone?’ They exploit the powerless.
In absence of effective governance, the weak derive their power from them. Those connected to the don enjoy respect; their tasks are easily done. People have got habituated to this. The don gives some money at the time of the elections and then loots the public money for five years. The villages, the big and small places of this country have forgotten ‘we’, ‘our’; all that they remember is ‘I, me, myself’.
A timely show in this heady election season in India, Aamir tried to toll the alarm bell. Criminalization of Indian politics is the dark reality of Indian democracy. In theory, all of us agree that our leaders should have the qualities to lead us. All of us want selfless, honest public representatives. But when we come to actual figures, Prof. Jagdeep Chhokar, a founder member of ADR (Association for Democratic Reforms) told us that today our parliament has 30% members who have criminal cases pending against them. This % is not decreasing; it’s increasing. All the parties share these gems of our parliament. The trend pervades the whole of India. Out of 162 MPs with criminal records, 76 have serious offences like rape, murder, kidnapping and human trafficking pending against them. These are the people who frame our laws; we send them there to decide our fate. It’s a shame that very high percent have rape and molestation charges against them.
ADR fought a long battle to get his data. They filed a public interest litigation in 1999 that at the time of filing his/her nomination papers, every candidate should disclose criminal cases pending against him/her and should also disclose his/her material wealth. The government, the Union of India, and all the political parties came together to turn down this proposal of ADR. Finally, the Supreme Court of India gave its ruling in favor of ADR. So this data is actually based on the information submitted by the candidates only. Our law makers themselves write sentences like, ‘I’ve 14 murder charges pending against me’ or ‘I’m accused of 5 rapes’! Great!
But when we look at individual cases of victimization by these powerful, political criminals, the story becomes unbearable. Mrigendra Singh and his wife Bharati had a pathetic, heart-breaking tale to narrate. Their daughter wanted to be an interior designer. The uncle of Mrigendra is a don; a hardened, habitual, powerful political criminal. He exploited the girl physically. When the girl threatened to expose him, he got her killed. This don has 82 serious criminal charges pending against him. He has 115 cases pending. His wife has also been convicted in complicity to his crimes. Out on bail, the don has full police security around him. He openly boasts of his crimes. No one dares to stand witness against him in court. People of his region are dead scared of him. Mrigendra said that he thought that at the most he’d be killed. He remembered his dead daughter saying that she always wanted to be their son, their source of strength. The lower court has given life sentence to the criminal. Vandana Singh, Mrigendra’s sister said that the society must give moral support to those who fight against these powerful criminals. But instead, a mainstream party gave a ticket to the don’s wife!
Mr. D. N. Gautam, ex DGP of Bihar said that ‘rule of law’ is a dream in India. With criminal politicians, the system gets topsy-turvy. The rule becomes the devil’s book. Once a car of an MLA was caught with 90 lakh cash from a bank robbery. The whole system worked on hotline to save the MLA.
Ajit Sarkar of Purnia, Bihar is loved and remembered by the people of Purnia even after his murder in 1998. He was the MLA. He loved his people; served them. The people of Purnia cry even today, remembering him. He wanted the land ceiling act to be implemented in his area. He wanted the poor to have their land. He was brutally murdered. 107 bullets were pierced into his frail body. The murderer was convicted in lower court. He has now been acquitted from the higher court.
Milan Sharma from Washington DC has done research into criminalization of Indian Politics. His figures tell that if one is a criminal, the chances of his winning elections increase three times. Mr. S. Y. Quraishi, ex-Chief Election Commissioner of India told that to distribute money, candidates even use ambulance and mortuary van! Bogus marriage functions are organized to stuff wine, mutton etc into the mouth of the voters. Mr. Quraishi made revealing remarks about intentions of elected governments to cancel all election related offences after the formation of the new government. This would make the exercise of the commission a mockery. He said that if we go by the logic that a person is innocent until proven guilty, 270 lakh under trial people are languishing in Indian jails. In fact, if a court has framed charges against a person, s/he should be debarred from fighting elections. That’s all.
Voters openly expect TV, fridge, cash, and mobile phones from the candidates. Members of many housing societies in Pune do not fill their electricity and water bills before elections. When a candidate comes, they ask him to fill the bill and take away their vote.
Our freedom fighters would never have imagined that they died for this. The whole of the show tried to invoke that sense of self respect among people so that they don’t sell their vote. In fact, the spirit of Satyamev Jayate is post-colonial. Indians must learn to respect themselves. We must value our rights. We must exercise our rights prudently. It’s not that our politicians are corrupt; it’s that we choose corrupt politicians. Honest people lose elections. Criminals have better chances of winning elections. The solution to our problems lies with us. Our infrastructure, education, industry, housing- everything can be improved if we exercise franchise carefully. Democracy is the tool of the aware. Let’s be aware. Let’s help our country in moving towards awareness. I end with the immortal lines of Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore:
Where the mind is without fear and the head held high;
Where knowledge is free;
Where the world has not been broken up into fragments
by narrow domestic walls;
Where words come out from the depth of truth;
Where tireless striving stretches its arms towards perfection;
Where the clear stream of reason has not lost its way
into the dreary desert sand of dead habit;
Where the mind is led forward by Thee
into ever-widening thought and action;
Into that heaven of freedom,
my Father, let my country awake.