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India: A Democracy Ruled By Criminals

'Democracy' is a word of various meanings. It can be understood by recalling Abraham Lincoln's idea of democracy which is, "A government of the people, by the people and for the people". Had this ideology been followed and respected and not just been written in the constitution for the sake of it, political representation in India would have seen different highs.

It is saddening to note that people who are elected to represent the citizens in the parliament are the same people who are accused of conducting heinous crimes such as rape, murder, abduction as well as similar serious crimes against women, men, and others, cases of which are pending in front of the law. According to the not-for-profit Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR), such instances peaked in assembly elections in the states of Assam, Kerala, Puducherry, Tamil Nadu, and West Bengal in 2021, where not less than 1,157 out of 6,318 candidates have criminal cases registered against them. Moreover, the proportions of such candidates have been increasing since including MLAs, MPs, Lok Sabha members with being at15% in 2009 to rising to 17% and 19% in 2017 and 2019 respectively, reported the Association for Democratic Reforms remarking on the state of politics in the country.

The word 'Clean Politics' which was religiously practiced by our founding fathers sounds like an oxymoron these days. The Representation of Peoples Act (RPA) 1951 mentions that the law does not bar individuals who have criminal cases pending against them because they yet not have been convicted for it, but only those who have been convicted before. Over the years the contributing factors to criminals being elected as decision-makers are the use of muscle-money power, lack of interest in voting by voters, lack of law enforcement by EC all of which is leading to unfair politics, harming the integrity of the system, and going against the principle of free and fair elections.

The activity can be curbed if citizens speak in harmony and not be silent bystanders as was our previously elected honorable PM Dr. Manmohan Singh who was a gold mine worth of untapped potential. Secondly, RPA should debar anyone from contesting elections against whom any serious case is pending. Thirdly, people should investigate the backgrounds of the candidates as mandated by section 33-A of RPA, which requires a candidate to furnish information on whether he is accused of any offense. Lastly, be cautious who you elect because you don't want to invite a termite into your home which if left untreated can hollow the very base of your foundation.

A lot has changed in the past 75 years of claiming independence. India has made significant and groundbreaking discoveries in every sector it steps into but has a long journey ahead of itself in the political route with the end destination being a political system free of criminalization, an institution exemplifying the truest and purest form of politics any country can offer its citizens.

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