Parties continue to field tainted candidates in Bihar
An analysis of the criminal antecedents of candidates being fielded in Bihar assembly elections shows that parties don’t care about reforming the electoral system.
Bihar goes to polls in three phases starting October 28. As part of a regular democratic exercise, Bihar Election Watch and Association for Democratic Reforms have analysed the self-sworn affidavits of 1064 out of 1066 candidates contesting in 71 seats in Phase I. Out of the candidates analysed, 328 (31%) candidates have declared criminal cases against them (unlawful assembly, intent to provoke breach of peace, criminal trespass, wrongful restraint, criminal conspiracy, etc.) and 244 (23%) have declared serious criminal cases (murder, rape, attempt to murder, voluntarily hurt to deter public servant from duty, etc.).
Among the major parties, 73% from RJD, 72% from BJP, 59% from LJP, 57% from INC, 43% from JD(U) and 31% from BSP have declared criminal cases against them in their affidavits. Similarly, 54% from RJD, 49% from LJP, 45% from BJP, 43% from INC, 29% from JD(U) and 19% from BSP have declared serious criminal cases. Despite the outcry over the Hathras incident, there are 29 candidates who have declared cases related to crime against women. Out of these, 3 candidates have declared cases related to rape.
61 out of 71 i.e 86% of the constituencies are Red alert constituencies, meaning three or more contesting candidates here have declared criminal cases against themselves.
All major parties contesting in Bihar phase I elections have given tickets to 31% to 70% candidates who have declared criminal cases against themselves. The Supreme Court in its directions dated 13 February 2020 had specifically instructed political parties to give reasons for such selection with reference to qualifications, achievements and merit of the candidate concerned. Therefore, such unfounded and baseless reasons given by political parties like the popularity of the person, that he/she does good social work, the cases are politically motivated etc are not sound and cogent reasons for fielding candidates with tainted backgrounds. To remedy the existing problem of criminalization, solutions offered by various committees, civil society and citizens should be acted upon. The Supreme Court should reprimand political parties and politicians for their complete lack of will and predilection. Candidates convicted for heinous crimes like murder, rape, smuggling, dacoity, kidnapping etc must be permanently disqualified and political parties who field such tainted candidates should have their tax exemptions cancelled, and maybe even be de-registered and de-recognised. Candidates furnishing false information in the election affidavit must be disqualified. Trial of cases in which the politicians are accused should be concluded in a time-bound manner.