David Wallechinsky, Noel Brinkerhoff
Voting for politicians in India can come down to choosing between a crook and a criminal, due to the preponderance of candidates who have broken the law.
Of the 2,000 candidates who ran for office on Tuesday in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh, the world’s largest state (population: 200 million), more than a third are facing criminal charges, including murder, rape, kidnapping and extortion, according to the advocacy group Association for Democratic Reforms.
India’s government has tried to crackdown on corruption, but the results aren’t showing up yet in election choices. The percentage of candidates facing criminal charges has gone up from 28% in 2007 to 35% this year.
The problem also exists in India’s lower house of Parliament, where 162 of the 545 members stand accused of violating the law.
Fortunately, this week’s election saw the rejection of many of the criminal candidates. For example, Manveer Singh Tevatia, a populist leader of farmers who ran in the Jewar constituency on the Janata Dal (United) ticket, stands accused in 31 separate cases. He has been charged with murder, attempted murder, kidnapping or abducting in order to murder, and dacoity (banditry). He ran for office even though he is currently in jail. Although Tuesday was generally a bad day for the ruling Congress Party, Manveer Singh was defeated by the Congress candidate.
Other candidates stand accused of a wide variety of colorful offenses, including lurking, uttering words with deliberate intent to wound the religious feelings of a person and charges related to obscene acts and songs.
© Association for Democratic Reforms
Privacy And Terms Of Use
Donation Payment Method