The Times of India
I P Singh

Money and muscle power apparently dominated the 2007 assembly election. As the analysis report, based on affidavits filed by the candidates in 2007 elections, released by the Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) and the Punjab Election Watch (PEC) that 50%t of the candidates were crorepatis, 16% of them had criminal cases against them.

About 65% of the Shiromani Akali Dal and Congress candidates were crorepatis, while 20 out of the total 56 candidates facing criminal cases won the election and became even ministers.

Jaskirat Singh of the PEC said that analysis showed that, barring five independents all the winners were from three parties - SAD, BJP and Congress, even a first runner up was not from any other party. "This shows how significant role a ticket from a dominant party can play in winning an election and therefore how important it is to ensure that this ticket distribution is democratized and tickets go to good people,'' he argued.

"This means complete dominance of these three in the politics of Punjab. In such a situation, internal democracy within parties needs to be vibrant and workers need to have a major role in selection of the candidates," said Jagdeep Singh Chookkar, founder member of ADR and former director of IIM Ahmedabad.

"As elections are drawing near in Punjab and there is pressure on political establishment across the country from the people, it is right time that people of Punjab also build pressure on parties of Punjab to select good candidates in a completely transparent and democratic manner," Chookar said as ADR and PEC released their analysis report on Punjab candidates.

It is the internal democracy which can reduce the familial domination in political parties.

Chhokar and Jaskirat pointed out that in the last election dismal 5% of the tickets were given to women which was even less than their share of 8% tickets in 2002 assembly elections. "This is one more manifestation, of lack of internal democracy in parties," they argued.

Meanwhile, Chhokar said that as the Election Commission of India had set up a full fledged expenditure monitoring division by taking officers on deputation from Indian Revenue Service.

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