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T JOSEPH BENZIGER

This evil of Criminalization of Politics calls for special attention of the people because the subject revolves around the vested interests of politicians of all hues; as such the people can never hope that the politicians would take any initiative to rectify this evil. The prevailing trend is spreading like cancer. It is nullifying all the constitutional safeguards of democracy; that is, it is spoiling bureaucracy by making it partial; it thwarts press; and even threatens judiciary; and thus is destroying the foundation of democracy. So the people should wake up at once and force the political parties to mend their ways.

The number of political parties in India has been phenomenally increasing. The mushroom growth of political parties is not the result of improvement in political standard; nor is it because more qualified and service-minded persons are entering the field of politics, determined to serve the country and its people. On the contrary, it is a definite indication of political standards going down to abysmal levels. The field of politics nowadays does not attract selfless gentlemen, eager to use their expertise and time for nation-building; it attracts rowdies and criminals with proven record of hooliganism, who want to become rich quickly and dominate the officials and law-abiding citizens. Subject to rare exceptions, in short, the politics in India has become a profitable business for rowdies.

The political parties do not pay attention to inculcate noble political values and principles of citizenship in the people. They do not promote patriotism and commitment to nation-building. They do not want to unite the people of nation by stressing the importance of harmonious living. On the contrary, they perpetuate the differences among the people and make full use of those differences for creating conflicts among them.

The British followed the policy of ‘divide and rule’; after India became independent, our politicians have become past masters of the art of creating groups and inciting them against one another. They want to fish in the troubled waters and when the water is placid, they trouble it to achieve their selfish ends.

Hooliganism in Reputed Forums

The corner-stone of democracy is objective discussion of the public issues by the people. The representatives of the people are expected to encourage such discussions, generate valuable ideas and take decisions in the larger interests of the people. But even the democratic forums like legislative assemblies and Parliament are not used for sincere discussions.

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This picture is only for a sample.1 The people of India are accustomed to see even worse dramas of our politicians.

The former Sports and Youth Affairs Minister Goolihatti Shekhar Goolihatti D Shekhar displayed his `youthfulness' and sporting nature by jumping from one desk to another. He tore his shirt yelling expletives at Chief Minister B S Yeddyurappa and his government. Shekhar had been sacked by Yeddyurappa for non-performance, but on October 11, he was the `best performer' in the Assembly. His performance stunned everybody.

A Janata Dal man, Shekhar sought a ticket from Hosadurga in Chitradurga district in Karnataka. When asked to contest from Holalkere, he contested as rebel candidate from Hosadurga and won. He is a science graduate and is into granite business when he does not make money in politics. Remember, the rebel MLAs were offered a whopping Rs 30-30 crore `loyalty fee' apart from free trips to the backwaters of Kerala and seashore of Goa.2 This is the standard of our elected representatives. Can any law-abiding, average citizen of India make such money in a single transaction!

The decency and decorum once considered inseparable from the public offices are thrown to the wind; these elected representatives would stoop down to any level, for achieving their personal political aims or the interests of their parties. From village panchayat meetings to Parliament, the common behavior includes selfish quarrel, cheap arguments, disrespect to authorities, violation of healthy conventions, and waste of time.

A Criminal Mix

The main reason for such downslide in political standard is the absence of reasonable restrictions to formation of political parties and admission of members to the political parties. For example, in the 2009 Lok Sabha elections, 369 parties contested. And, totally 8070 candidates represented these parties. Out of 369 parties, 333 parties did not win even in a single constituency. Even among the remaining 36 parties, 19 parties won only in three or less number of seats! Why should there be such a large number of non-serious political parties and candidates, making a mockery of the election process?

Moreover, the number of candidates with criminal records among our ‘elected representatives’ is steadily increasing. In 2004 Lok Sabha, there were 128 MPs with criminal background; and in 2009 the number rose to 150!3

In all political parties, the rowdies are given red-carpeted welcome; because their ‘services’ are needed to these parties frequently for carrying on unlawful activities during the bandhs, strikes, rallies etc., organized by them. When such criminals become political leaders, they seek to achieve whatever they want without caring for rules and regulations; they would not hesitate to adopt criminal methods for attaining their goals; whether it is winning an election or elimination of rivals. For these hard core criminals, the offences like threatening officials, kidnapping and even murder do not appear bad.

Here is a news item.4 Again, this is given only as a sample. Day in, day out, we have been hearing similar news.

Eyewitnesses said the assailants hacked Raghunath Reddy with hunting sickles and grievously injured Chandrasekhar Reddy before fleeing the place.

Factionalism reared its ugly head again in the district with a Telugu Desam leader being murdered in broad daylight in a restaurant near Srikantam circle on Monday.
The murder shocked police as well as local people who had been under the impression that factionalism was gradually disappearing from the district.
The TD leader, K. Raghunath Reddy, 47, and his brother-in-law, Chandrasekhar Reddy, were having lunch in the restaurant when five unidentified persons who came in four-wheeler barged in.
Eyewitnesses said the assailants hacked Raghunath Reddy with hunting sickles and grievously injured Chandrasekhar Reddy before fleeing the place.
Raghunath Reddy belonged to Reddypalli of Devuni Uppalapadu panchayat of Peddapappur mandal.
His brother, Ramboopal Reddy, was beaten to death by the henchmen of the Congress leader, Nallapu Reddy, in 2006. In retaliation, Raghunath Reddy allegedly killed Nallapu Reddy. The TD leader went underground after that but rivals traced him and brutally hacked him to death.
Chandrasekhar Reddy, who is undergoing treatment at the government hospital, alleged that the attackers included Nallapu Reddy’s sons, Niranjan Reddy and Madhava Reddy.

The National Police Commission, 1977

The National Police Commission constituted in 1977 pointed out,5 in one of its reports, “In the existing set-up, the police function under the executive control of the state government. According to the Commission, the manner in which political control has been exercised over the police in this country has led to gross abuses, resulting in erosion of rule of law and loss of police credibility as a professional organization. The threat of transfer / suspension is the most potent weapon in the hands of the politician to bend the police down to his will…”

The most important recommendations of the NPC centered on the problem of insulating the police from illegitimate political and bureaucratic interference. These recommendations perturbed the entrenched elite at the prospect of losing control over an organization that they had been misusing for so long.6

Many of the truthful observations of the National Police Commission (NPC) about the general behavior of the politicians irked the then government, and many of its meaningful recommendations were ignored. But the history has proved the observations of the NPC. The electoral offences have multiplied in quantity and intensity; the involvement of the criminals in them with the support of political leaders is threatening to make the electoral process in India an exercise in futility. The nexus of politicians and criminals is becoming stronger with the participation of dishonest officials patronized by the political leaders. Such nexus of politicians, criminals and dishonest officials is spreading everywhere; and it is now very open. They have become very confident that nobody can do anything against them; if anybody becomes so much of a trouble, it is not a big thing to silence him or her.

Nidhi Soni observes in an article,7 “The politicians are thriving today on the basis of muscle power provided by criminals. The common people who constitute the voters are in most cases too reluctant to take measures that would curtail the criminal activities. Once the political aspect joins the criminal elements the nexus becomes extremely dangerous. Many of politicians chose muscle power to gain vote bank in the country, and they apply the assumption that, if we are unable to bring faith in the community then we can generate fear or threat to get the power in the form of election.”

Conclusion

Criminalization of politics in India is an extremely serious problem, which has already reached dangerous levels.

This is not a joke. Again, let me just cite an example. The office of the Tamil daily Dinakaran in Madurai was burnt in May 2007 and three employees, viz. Vinodh, Gopi and Muthupandi were killed. The incident was recorded in video. All the 17 accused for burning three employees of the Tamil daily Dinakaran were set free by a Tamil Nadu court on December 9, 2009 as the key witnesses turned hostile. Except for one police official who was charged with negligence of duty, all others were supporters of MK Alagiri, Union Minister for Chemicals and Fertilizers and Chief Minister M Karunanidhi's son.8

This evil of Criminalization of Politics calls for special attention of the people because the subject revolves around the vested interests of politicians of all hues; as such the people can never hope that the politicians would take any initiative to rectify this evil. The prevailing trend is spreading like cancer. It is nullifying all the constitutional safeguards of democracy; that is, it is spoiling bureaucracy by making it partial; it thwarts press; and even threatens judiciary; and thus is destroying the foundation of democracy. So the people should wake up at once and force the political parties to mend their ways.

References

1. Deccan Chronicle, Hyderabad, October 12, 2010

2. http://news.in.msn.com/national/article.aspx?cp-documentid=4453489&page=2

3. http://www.scribd.com/doc/20133814/Criminalization-of-Politics-in-India-A-project-study

4. Deccan Chronicle, Hyderabad, October 12, 2010

5. http://www.humanrightsinitiative.org/publications/police/npc_recommendations.pdf

6. http://www.humanrightsinitiative.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&catid=91%3Ashiva&id=686%3Apolice-india-national-police-commission&Itemid=100

7. http://www.legalserviceindia.com/article/l290-Criminalization-of-Politics.html

8. http://www.zeenews.com/news586176.html

 

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