Noted Indian journalist Kuldip Nayar in his article published in a Pakistani newspaper The News has highlighted the dominance of moneybags, criminals and politicians' relatives in the recently concluded Assembly elections in three states : Maharashtra, Haryana and Arunachal Pradesh.
Nyar writes: "...elections have been reduced to an exercise to grab power, the power which has itself become an end by itself, not an opportunity to serve or perform. Three traits are recognisable: criminals, money bags and defeat of women candidates.
"Take the example of the three states, Maharashtra, Haryana and Arunachal Pradesh, which went to polls recently. Criminals have captured 50 per cent seats in Maharashtra. There are regular charges under Indian Penal Code against them. Out of these, 15 per cent have been booked for murder and 22 per cent for dacoity and kidnapping and six for extortion. The state's record is ‘better' than before. In the 2004 assembly election, the number of criminal candidates was 123. This time they are 143.
"Haryana, next door to Delhi, has elected 17 per cent of criminals. Haryana has ‘slipped' in the sense that in the last election there were as many as 28 members with a criminal history. This time their number has gone down to 17. Arunachal Pradesh has made no ‘progress.' It has maintained the figure of five per cent like the last time.
".... There is no doubting about the relationship between the assets of a candidate and the victory. The analysis of assets declared by candidates a statutory requirement showed that if a candidate possessed more than Rs 1 crore, his or her chance of success straightway went up by 50 per cent in all the three states. In Haryana an affluent candidate was best placed with 72 per cent chances of success. In Maharashtra the success was 68 per cent and in Arunachal Pradesh 58 per cent.
"And it was distressing to see fewer and fewer women winning the election. The government's efforts to reserve 33 per cent of seats in parliament and the state assemblies become all the more necessary to offset their poor representation. In all the three states, women have done badly. The percentage of the success is 3.82 per cent in Maharashtra, the most advanced, five per cent in Arunachal and almost twice the average, 8.89 per cent, in the otherwise backward Haryana.
"A new thing which has, however, emerged is the proliferation of family members. Earlier, this was confined to the Mrs Indira Gandhi's dynasty — she nominating her son Rajiv Gandhi, and Sonia Gandhi, positioning her son, Rahul Gandhi, in the Congress party she heads. But this assembly election has seen chief ministers, party chiefs and those highly placed in the Congress or the BJP nominating their sons, nephews, daughters and daughters-in-law. Most of them have won. The most reprehensible part is that the son of India's President has returned on the Congress ticket. The President is a figurehead in our constitution and she becomes crucial when the alliances break. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh leads a coalition which has inherent weaknesses".
Moreover, Kuldip Nayar writes: "What is most disturbing is that the ideology has more or less disappeared. The name of the Congress or that of the BJP was there but candidates seldom mentioned or projected the party's ideology. Combinations and alliances on the basis of sub-castes and regional bias have come to the fore. With no ideology and a surfeit of loyal relatives, political parties are rapidly taking the shape of a private limited company which distributes shares to its deal ones. Both concentrate on the strategy to succeed by hook or by crook".
On Haryana Chief Minister B S Hooda garnering majority, Nayar writes: " ... In the house of 90, the Congress secured only 40. And what the party did to form the government is itself a shameful story.
"Seven independent MLAs were picked up by the police overnight. All have been promised ministerships or equivalent positions with the same status and emoluments. And it was not a surprise that the session was convened for one day to administer oaths to 90 MLAs, to elect the speaker and deputy speaker, to have the governor's address, discussion on it and vote of thanks before adjournment.
"The state governor should have intervened to stop the horse trading. But how could he have such gumption when he owes his appointment to the Congress-ruled centre? The civil society does not speak out because it has more or less accepted that politics cannot be cleansed. Then why blame the extreme communists, the Naxalites, who have taken to the gun because of their loss of faith in the ballot box?", writes Nayar.
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