Earlier in Forum







Q: How should criminals be weeded out of the entire political system — Parliament, Legislative Assemblies, the government and political parties?
(This is the first instalment of readers’ response)

Don’t pick the bad guy

Criminals can be weeded out from the entire political system and the government only if the common man wants it, and for that, he will have to be honest and a good human being. Today, if there are criminals in Parliament and state Assemblies, it’s people who have voted for them, and that’s because people want undue favours, which they cannot get from an honest representative. The common man has to rise above his self-interest and not get influenced by the money and muscle power. Each vote counts in making an MP or an MLA. I have seen people selling their votes for a bottle of liquor or a few rupees, which is equally criminal. Vote is our most powerful right and we must cast it in favour of the right candidate. Tainted ministers should be tried, and if convicted, should not only be removed from the party but also debarred from contesting any election.

MADHU R. D. SINGH, Ambala Cantonment

Limit the term of office

The real issue here is the politicisation of criminals. At present, only men of muscle enter the arena of politics. Weeding them out is possible if the political life of a politician is limited to two or three terms and their immediate descendents are barred from entering politics, at least for five years after the father or the mother has quit active politics.

The electoral process needs a change to minimise elections. Let only the top man or woman be elected by general public and the rest by taxpayers.

Election rallies and the show of glitter associated with these should be banned. Only debates in the electronic media should be permitted. Persons contributing to party fund must pay extra tax and no gupt daan (anonymous donation) should be accepted. Routine work must be ensured in offices without political threat and directions from political high-ups in matters other than that of policy should be weighed only on merit. Cases related to crimes by political persons, whether past or present, need to be disposed of quickly. Power and glamour of politics should be pruned and politicians should be made to be powerless individually and most powerful collectively.


Screen ‘em before you take ‘em

It sounds like an oxymoron when we mention the word criminal with lawmaker. Politics is now merely a game of power, pelf and perks. Political parties take in by the dozen persons with criminal background, who are incapable of understanding the meaning of the words nation, rights and duties. There’s a dire need for redefining the constraints for both chambers of Parliament. A strict condition should be imposed, whereby a member should be a citizen of India, within the right age limit, with specified minimum qualification and most importantly no criminal record. Otherwise, unruly rulers will create unruly masses.


Empower the masses to act

Local people know well who are the bad characters. Such elements should be banned from entering government service, state legislatures and Parliament. The ballot paper should have a separate column where the names of all tainted candidates should be ticked off as rejected. Only candidates who secure more than 50 per cent of the votes alone must be declared elected. If there is transparency and right to information is protected, officials in league with the tainted candidates can be sacked. Educated citizens should be empowered to lodge complaints against Judges and even highly placed bureaucrats to keep them under check and let them be accountable. All development works proposed by government agencies must be subjected to public hearings.

T. SHIVAJI RAO, Visakhapatnam

Media, EC have a role to play

There are political criminals of various categories, involved in scams or political murders, etc. Anyone who aspires to become an MLA/MP out of this lot would be in full knowledge of the public and officials. However, if a criminal has indeed become an MLA/MP due to low voter turnout due to diminishing interest in democracy, to turn the public away from him or her, the government machinery and the media should educate the voters. The aggrieved constituencies should get the Election Commission to strike out the tainted names from future ballots. The EC should act ruthlessly against parties that sponsor candidates with criminal record.

H. H. SINGH, On e-mail

Let courts decide

The common man will have to be aware of his rights and the right candidate. The vigilance and election officials, while performing their duties, should recall the oath they take while joining. Political parties should keep the criminals at a distance. A new Act should be brought in to say that anyone having assets disproportionate to his or her known sources of income should not get the ticket to contest any poll.


Delay in justice allows them in

Water, air or politics are all getting polluted at an alarming rate. Politics alone has become so dirty that everybody will have to join heads to make it clean. Our judiciary takes pride in the fact that its acquittal rate is better than its conviction rate, even though this is what makes tainted men emerge more strongly after committing a crime. An accused cannot be called criminal until proved guilty, and the intervening long period paves the path for the criminals to enter Assemblies, Parliament and civic bodies. Revamp judiciary and everything will be solved.


Reward honest leaders

Public awareness is necessary for bringing any change and the media can play a vital role in this. The media should launch a campaign against the criminals in politics and make the public aware. Honest, industrious, and diligent politicians and administrator should be rewarded and acclaimed by the government and the public. The prominent cause of criminals entering politics is the growing population and job insecurity. Jobless youth are easy weapons for any politician. There should be social, political, economic and institutional justice for every caste. Criminals should be humiliated and punished and their allies in the administration should be put behind bars.


Make the courts move faster

The simple way to weed out criminals is to debar them from entering the system, but as charge sheeting a person is no big deal, it become hard to decide whom to debar. We should stick to the basic fundamental that unless proved guilty, a person is innocent, even though it might be the biggest loophole in the law as it takes generations to prove someone guilty. Criminals take advantage of this. The solution is to make judiciary efficient and quick, so that the verdict is delivered in years rather than decades. The verdict in all cases should be delivered within a specified time. The court can then debar the convicted person from entering politics.

RAHUL, Phagwara

Revise the rules

If you want to become a government employee or join the Army, you have go thorough tough competition apart from putting in a lot of hard work, but to become a minister, you don’t have to do anything like that. All you need is the courage to spend some money during the elections without looking at your purse. We need is to enact new laws for contesting elections, on the lines of the rules for appearing in competitive examinations. These rules should be strictly enforced. It should be mandatory for a candidate to have a sound academic background and no police record. Then, no dubious person would ever dare to join politics.


Don’t seek help from the Devil

The election process is full of ambiguities, causing harm to the spirit of leadership. Huge money is spent on winning the elections by unfair means. Taking help from the Devil has become necessary for winning the election, for the Devil only can supply unaccounted money and muscle power. This has gradually led to the growing interference of criminals in politics. Determination and firm decisions on part of Parliament and the judiciary can still repair the damage. Any politician having links with the underworld should not be eligible for contesting elections. An investigation should be initiated against the tainted leaders.


Parties should introspect

It is difficult for the common electorate to weed out criminals from politics, since in our country it’s mainly party politics. We do not distinguish a criminal from a party that has issued him a ticket to contest the elections. The onus lies mostly on the party on whose ticket a criminal fights the elections and wins. For a voter to vote against a criminal is one option, but mostly the party symbol overshadows everything. The Election Commission has indeed done well to list all the black sheep, but the courts have now come in its way. It is now only upto the political bigwigs (if any with conscience are left) to bring in new laws that would make it impossible for a criminal to enter politics. The parties will have to look at persons of clean image not seats.


Root out crime itself

Instead of weeding out criminals from politics, we need to root out crime. If crime is removed from society, there is no question of any criminal becoming a politician. Those who join politics, government or become Members of Legislative Assemblies are not criminals by birth, but circumstances make them so. Sometimes in order to get power, or to remain in power, they commit a crime. The moral and cultural values that one imbibes in childhood should be clear, worth imbibing and strong, so that one doesn't get morally weak at the time of trial. There is no pillow as soft as a clear conscience.

PUJA PUJARI, On e-mail

Next Thursday: More letters on this topic.


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