The Times of India

PATNA: The volunteers of Bihar Election Watch(BEW) and the Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) will create awareness among people to vote against the candidates of criminal background in the next parliamentary elections due in 2014.

The BEW and the ADR discussed the strategy in this regard at the A N Sinha Institute of Social Studies (ANSISS) on Monday after releasing a report based on 2010 assembly elections in Bihar. Out of the 2235 candidates in the 2010 elections, 797 (36%) had pending criminal cases against them. BJP had 66 out of 102 (65%), JD (U) 76 out of 140 (54%), INC 92 out of 240 (38%), BSP 89 out of 232 (38%), and NCP had 30 out of 106 (28%) candidates with pending criminal cases. The number of crorepati MLAs also increased from eight (3%) in 2005 to 48 (20%) in 2010, the report said. ADR has been working on electoral reforms, improving democracy and governance in India since 2002.

The founder member of ADR and a former director of IIM, Ahmedabad, Jagdish S Chhokar told TOI, "We will generate awareness mainly among youth and women at the village and panchayat level against candidate having criminal antecedents. We will also extract information about their track records through RTI from Bihar DGP and the assembly Speaker. We will also put pressure on political parties not to field tainted candidates in the elections."

He further said, "ADR has also requested all the MPs not to support an amendment to the RTI Act if introduced in Parliament. Bringing political parties under the purview of the RTI Act is merely a step forward in the same direction to ensure accountability by all political platforms to the citizens of India."

Rajiv Kumar, coordinator of the Bihar chapter, said none of the political parties have been following internal democracy within the organization. Kumar also said as many as 8,000 assurances given by the government in the state legislature were still pending.

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