FALLING STATURE OF POLITICS

Probity in public life is a luxury many politicians do not simply afford. Despite the melodrama played around clean image, most policy makers fail this ultimate test of character & selfless representation.

Humra Quraishi

These are loathsome times to live in, for want of a better word. People representing the larger constituents of public have descended to such a low level of ethics that associating probity in public life is pure oxymoron. When India was born out of the ruts of poverty & slavery, people had high hopes of their representatives & their conduct that would see India break loose from its immediate past and set a new high in public life. For all of the seventy odd years of being free, we have only succeeded in either damaging the institutions that were so carefully crafted and painfully built and serious doubts are now raised whether the perils closing in on us can be effectively warded off. We have woefully matured into a society that is high on hyperbole & low on credibility & the shining example of such declining standards is the consistency with which we have been sending tainted people to represent us in the highest seat of democracy; that is the parliament.
India has had a fair share of its torch bearers of integrity & honesty. Cleanliness in public life was something for which Rajaji fought all through his life. It was Gandhiji’s principal article of faith. Men of great stature like Nanda, Radhakrishnan, Nehru, Morarji, Atal Behari Vajpayee, Charan Singh and Kamaraj, to mention some of our leaders, were illustrations of impeccable integrity. All this has changed. Till date we have had a noticeable percentage of political candidates with criminal backgrounds and also with cases slapped on them and yet they are fighting elections. And now with Sadhvi Pragya Thakur’s entry into the world of Indian politics, as the BJP’s much flaunted candidate from Bhopal , we also have a terror accused fighting elections.

Why did the BJP decide to put up a candidate who is not cleared of the terror charges and with that technically a terror accused? As though it doesn’t really concern the BJP whether their candidates stand accused of an array of serious crimes …You have the likes of Sakshi Maharaj (who happens to be Member Parliament from Unnao – where a 16 year was raped by BJP’s sitting MLA) who has several criminal cases against him and not long back he was also seen inaugurating a night club in Lucknow! Taking you still further, criminal charges are pending against Uttar Pradesh chief minister, Yogi Adityanath. Not just that, he was in the process of ‘removing’ or ‘dropping’ charges against several of his tainted BJP ministers and political workers. Yes, not long back he had even announced that his government was bringing a law to withdraw “politically-motivated” cases, registered against ministers, legislators and others in the state. Critics had pointed out that, that the proposed law sought to scrap about 20,000 such cases registered in the various locales of the state!

Something or everything seems to be going wrong but who is there to halt the decay setting in! Whatever happened to all those lengthy findings and detailed reports which focused on the political who’s who involved in rapes and kidnapping and rioting? Instead of getting side-lined or ousted for times to come, we are seeing their faces all over, as always throwing up filth and dirt. Not to overlook the fact that several of the hard core elements in today’s government are coming up with gutter -abusive -communal comments yet they are not quietened. Why? Is this the face of clean India?

If you recall, in the summer of 2017 ( August 2017) a study conducted by the Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR), a non-government organization working for electoral reforms, brought forth hitting facts on the country’s lawmakers : As many as 51 MPs and MLAs have declared cases of crime against women, including of alleged rape and abduction. Of the 51, 48 are Members of Legislative Assembly (MLAs) and three are Members of Parliament (MPs)…Giving party-wise details, the study stated that among various recognized parties, the BJP has the highest number of MPs and MLAs (14), followed by the Shiv Sena (7) and the All India Trinamool Congress (6) who have declared cases related to crime against women.

ADR and National Election Watch analysed 4,852 out of 4,896 election affidavits of current MPs and MLAs. This includes 774 out of 776 affidavits of MPs and 4,078 out of 4,120 MLAs from all the states of India. Out of the analyzed 1,581 (33%) MPs and MLAs with declared criminal cases, 51 have declared cases related to crimes against women…334 candidates, who had declared cases related to crime against women, were given tickets by recognized political parties. Among these candidates, 40 were given tickets by parties for Lok Sabha or Rajya Sabha elections. Various recognized parties have given tickets to 294 candidates with cases related to crime against women for state assembly elections…The study also brought into focus the fact that in the last five years, 19 independent candidates with declared cases related to crime against women contested in the LS and RS elections. And 103 independent candidates with declared cases related to crime against women contested in the state assembly polls.

Another fact came to the fore: over the last five years, 48 candidates with declared cases related to crime against women were given tickets by the BJP. The second highest number of candidates (36) who had declared cases related to crime against women were given tickets by the BSP, followed by 27 candidates from the INC which had contested for LS/RS and state assemblies elections. Another fact: Among the states, Maharashtra has the highest number of MPs and MLAs (12) who have declared cases of crime against women, followed by West Bengal (11) and Odisha (6)….Also, among the states, Maharashtra has the highest number of candidates (65) in the last five years, followed by Bihar (62) and West Bengal (52) (including independents) who were given tickets by political parties even though they declared cases related to crime against women in their affidavits.

Today with terror accused finding their way upwards only goes to prove the rot that’s set in . After all, what justification holds out that out of hundreds of political workers , the BJP could come up with Sadhvi Pragya Thakur as their candidate from Bhopal!