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Fresh danger to democracy: Candidates with criminal records have better chances to win, says ADR-NEW

By Our Representative
In a new analysis, Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) and National Election Watch (NEW) have found that out of 62,847 candidates who contested either Parliamentary or State Assembly Elections since 2004, as many as 11,063 18% had declared that they had criminal cases against themselves. Further, of the 8,790 candidates (8%) candidates had declared that they had serious criminal cases against themselves.
While this may be considered something “normal”, as things stand in India today, what should be an eye-opener to those who stand by democratic values is, there are greater chances of winning elections if the candidate does not have a clean record. ADR-NEW analysis suggests, there is 12% chance of winning election with a clean record, while the chance of winning election with serious criminal record is 23%.
Of the sitting Lok Sabha MPs with criminal cases, they are 162 (30%) out of 543 Lok Sabha MPs, who have declared criminal cases against themselves. Of these, 76 or 14% of the current Lok Sabha MPs have declared serious criminal cases against themselves. Then, 40 out of 232 (17%) sitting MPs from Rajya Sabha have declared criminal cases against themselves. Of these, 16 (7%) of the current Rajya Sabha MPs have declared serious criminal cases.
As for the sitting MLAs who have declared criminal cases, 1,258 (31%) out of the 4032 from all state assemblies have declared criminal cases against themselves. Of these, 15% of the current MLAs from all state assemblies have declared serious criminal cases against themselves.
Taken together, out of the total number of 8,790 MPs/MLAs analyzed since 2004, as many as 2,575 or 29% have declared criminal cases against themselves and 1187 or 14% have serious criminal charges. A party-wise breakup suggests that the Indian National Congress has 8% and BJP has 13% MPs/MLAs with serious criminal charges.
Analysis of the data has also reveals that money power and muscle power have a large bearing on the chances of winning of a candidate. The average assets of 2,575 MPs/MLAs (analyzed since 2004) with criminal cases is Rs 4.30 crore and for 1187 MPs/MLAs with serious criminal charges has been Rs 4.38 crore. This is against the average assets of all candidates being Rs 1.37 crore, and average assets of MPs/MLAs being Rs 3.83 crore.
An analysis of the candidates with criminal cases getting party tickets for the second time shows that of those with criminal records (4,181) as many as 1,072 of them had a criminal case against themselves when they fought elections for the first time. Of these, 788 had cases when they fought for the second time also. “This means political parties gave tickets to 74% of candidates with criminal records the second time also despite having information on their criminal background from previous elections”, comments ADR-NEW analysis.
But what is of even more interest is that, the total number of candidates with criminal cases still increased the second time as there were 507 other candidates (out of 4,181) who showed no criminal cases in the first election but declared cases in the second round of elections. “Therefore, the total percent of candidates with criminal records given tickets by political parties rose from 26% to 31%”, the analysis says.
“If one looks at serious criminal cases a similar picture emerges. Of 540 candidates with serious charges, 353 or 65% were given tickets for the second time also. In addition to them there were 289 other candidates with no criminal cases in the first election, but who had declared cases in the second round of elections. This also shows that the total percent of candidates with serious criminal records given tickets by political parties rose from 12% to 15%”, it adds.
The analysis shows that cases against 788 contesting candidates have been pending since their declarations in the previous election. “This means that these candidates with pending criminal cases continue to contest elections, while charges against them remaining pending in Courts without any resolution and some of them even continue to sit as people’ representatives”, ADR-NEW analysis suggests.
Party wise MPs/MLAs who have declared criminal cases suggests that 75% of MPs/MLAs who have got elected on Shiv Sena (SS) tickets since 2004 have declared criminal cases against themselves (out of 137 MPs/MLAs from SS, 103 have declared criminal cases). Further, 46% of MPs/ MLAs elected on RJD tickets since 2004 have declared criminal cases against themselves (Out of 125 MPs/MLAs analyzed, 58 have declared criminal cases). Also, 44% of representatives elected on JD (U) tickets since 2004 have declared criminal cases against themselves (out of 272 MPs/MLAs analyzed, 120 have declared criminal cases).
Party wise BJP & INC MPs/MLAs who have declared criminal cases suggests that 31% of MPs/MLAs elected on BJP tickets since 2004 have declared criminal cases against themselves (out of the 1,689 MPs/MLAs from BJP, 520 have declared criminal cases). Also, 22% of MPs, MLAs and MLCs elected on INC tickets since 2004 have declared criminal cases against themselves (out of the 2451 MPs/MLAs from INC, 527 have declared criminal cases against themselves).

For more details see:
Ten years of elections: crime and money
List of MPs-MLAs with pending cases

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