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Q: What should be done to stop tainted politicians from fighting elections?
This is the seventh instalment of readersí response.

Image of parties is at stake

Tainted politicians have wrested the power from us. They are now honourable Members of Parliament and ministers. Scoundrels, bootleggers and murderers hold Parliament to ransom. Even the Speaker canít say anything.

The responsibility squarely is of the electorate and Election Commission. Our election rules and code of conduct require structural changes. The history-sheeters should be debarred from contesting elections. The chargesheeted persons, in cases where the court has taken cognizance of the crime and a prima-facie case has been established, should also be debarred from contesting elections.

All political parties should cooperate in introducing these changes to project a cleaner image. There should also be a right to recall unworthy representatives. The Press should also play a constructive role in saving democracy from peril.

GURDEV SINGH, Mohali

Build your character

There is no way to control the mind except dexterity and discipline. Duty cannot be performed without self-control. If lust and greed are at hand, kindness, patience, tolerance and contentment are the only virtues that may save the human civilization. However, character comes naturally and cannot be obtained by practice. Poverty, disease, troubles and disgrace are nothing but the fruits of our actions.

Strong and fair conduct of a man is the only weapon that may stop him from being tainted. A man who does not feel the pain of others cannot be expected to be untainted. Much has been discussed on whether enactment of strong laws and more power to the Election Commission and judiciary might stop tainted politicians from fighting election, but this evil cannot be uprooted through such methods.

A tainted politician is a man whose soul is dead. They are enemies of good governance, democracy and prosperity of common man. A time comes in the history of a nation when the afflux of it sets the things right, as time and tide do not wait.

DAYA NAND, Charkhi Dadri

Know their assets

THE Chief Election Commissioner should have the power to reject nomination papers of any candidate who fails to attach with his or her nomination paper a certificate from the respective high court to prove that there is no criminal case pending against him or her and he or she has not been punished in the past as well.

A candidate should be at least a postgraduate. Details of his or her movable and immovable assets should be attached with the nomination papers. If on the above factors, the nomination of a candidate is rejected, then the High Court concerned should not admit the appeal of the rejected candidate.

Political parties are incapacitated and would keep giving ticket to tainted politicians, as money power is a big factor in elections. Make rules that deter tainted politicians from filing nomination.

SUNDER SINGH GIANI, Mohali

Donít vote on the basis of caste

Illiteracy and backwardness are the bane of democratic set-up. Unless the people of India realise the importance of their votes, the glaring flaws in the system canít be rectified. Predominantly, the voter of India is poor and lacks awareness. The deceitful politician exploits all these shortcomings of the voter.

Caste and creed play an important role in elections. Merit, education, dedication and character of the candidate hardly come into the focus. Voting on communal lines play havoc with choice of the right candidate for the job. As long as the voter is not aware of his voting right and its meaning, we canít stop the entry of tainted politicians into legislative bodies.

KARNAIL SINGH, Kharar

Bring in a dictator

The vote-bank system has corrupted democracy and given us tainted, corrupt and unqualified leaders, who give us cancers like reservation. The flexibility of our Constitution is a drawback, as there is no provision to stop tainted politicians from fighting election.

At this juncture there seems no solution to the problem, as nearly eighty per cent of the country does not know the value of its vote. The only solution is that, at least for ten years, we should be under a military regime led by the President and his governors. After ten years, we should reintroduce democracy with a new face. The system of upper and lower houses needs to go. The Lok Sabha should be dismissed. Only the Rajya Sabha should be maintained with members from all states who are intellectuals and professionals. For being a member of the state legislature, masterís degree should be fixed as minimum qualification.

S. D. NANDA, Patiala

A new law could help

It is the paramount duty of each citizen to keep away tainted persons from high offices, especially legislative bodies. These bodies form the nerve centre of our democracy. If the tainted persons get majority in the House, the future of this country is bleakThey will not shy away from selling this country to a foreign buyer. They will spend our hard-earned money and we alone will be responsible for that situation. Bring in a new law to ensure that such person do not enter legislative bodies. The electorate should say no to the petty gains from these tainted persons. Be on guard.

BALDEV SINGH SAINI, Mohali

Merit, not money, should get the ticket

It is tragic that our India abounds in tainted persons. Things have deteriorated to such a level that it has become much most difficult for us to find scrupulous persons, even with the help of a torch. When scrupulous candidates are not available, we are bound to elect whosoever we think is less tainted. We sit on the fence and watch them eat up our crop.

Political parties should keep tainted persons at bay, but the picture here in quite otherwise. Political parties hardly make an effort to identify tainted persons; instead they distribute party ticket taking into account the amount the candidate puts into the party fund.

The EC should have the dictatorial powers to control political parties. It should get the antecedents of all the candidates verified from the police stations concerned. A limit should be fixed on expenditure during election and whosoever spends more should lose his or her seat, if elected. The EC should be despotic in this regard. There shouldnít be any appeal against this verdict. It should act as the communists act in the Peopleís Republic of China. Apart from it, there should be network of social organisations to educate the electors to make the right use of their vote.

BANSI RAM, Chak Hajipur, Hoshiarpur

Throw them out of politics first

There is a firm need to stop tainted politicians from fighting elections, if we really want our country to progress, advance and join the race to be a developed nation by 2020. Nowadays, the youth are injecting themselves into dirty politics. It is a matter of shame and disgust that even our youth have allowed themselves to be corrupted.

From an early age, these youngsters get used to a life where the power of money governs everything, and when they infuse themselves into politics, their objective can hardly be to change the lives of the suffering millions. Even at the time of elections, they make use of muscle and money power to grab maximum votes.

Sons of leading politicians are always in the forefront in politics and in line to succeed their parents. Like father, like son. It depends upon their bank balance how corrupt they become; opportunism becomes their sole motive. Strict action should be taken against corrupted politician; they should be fined and even imprisoned. They should be thrown out of politics, let alone just the government or elections.

The election procedure should be revised; politicians need to submit affidavits that they donít have criminal record and give a proof of their background. A code of conduct or ethics should be prescribed, which needs to be followed religiously.

Voters need to differentiate between right and wrong candidates. We need to apply our mind before electing our government, because one wrong step may spoil our future. As it is said: "One bad fish, spoils the whole pond". What is to be done, if the entire pond is contaminatedóThen arises the need to give it a thought and do something constructive.

NEHA DUSSA, Amritsar

Get consensus among parties

Politics has become a lucrative profession today and to be a politician does not require any prescribed qualification. This profession has a vast scope, right from panchayats and local self-governments to the apex body of Parliament. The current provisions of law do not debar tainted politicians from taking part in elections, except in cases of conviction in criminal cases by the courts of law. Thus, tainted politicians would continue to enter the governing bodies of this country and damage our socio-political system.

In such circumstances, there is no direct method to prevent the tainted politicians from getting elected. However, a number of indirect solutions are available, which can effectively be used.

First of all, all political parties should reach a consensus in national interest not to field a tainted politician, howsoever influential he or she may be. Secondly, the Election Commission should make it mandatory for all aspiring candidates to mention all their pending court cases in the nomination papers before taking part in any election.

Thirdly, special courts should be set up to decide criminal cases against politicians and these should deliver verdicts at the earliest. Last of all, all funds and executive powers should not be placed at the disposal of elected representatives and the MP Local Area Development (MPLAD) scheme should be scrapped forthwith.

NEERAJ KISHORE SHARMA, Mandi

Literates alone should cast ballot

There wonít be any need to stop tainted politicians from fighting elections, if "tainted" persons are stopped from casting their votes. This can be done, if the casting of vote is made mandatory. Any citizen of the age prescribed by the Election Commission, if has a voting right, he or she should be penalised if he or she does not come out to vote. This will bring a spectacular change in our political system.

Today, no politician wishes that a person of integrity should cast her/her vote. All politicians focus on their vote banks and a vote bank is a bank that is based on caste, community and category. The literates, who are seen the least casting their votes, if compelled to vote, will make full use of their brain in choosing the right candidate. They cannot not be bribed or persuaded through canvassing or force and so is the view of the Election Commissioner, Dr S. Y. Qureshi.

Dr M. S. SULTAN, Ludhiana

Cut delay in disposing of cases

Replacing government in the election is proof of voterís maturity. I, therefore, feel measures noted below will help stop tainted politicians from contesting election:

The Supreme Court on the basis of reports of a five-member committee headed by former chairman of Law Commission, Mr Justice M. J. Rao, had directed the High Courts to formulate rules for segregating cases on different tracks. This will help cut delay in the disposal of criminal cases against the politicians.

During the last general election, the Patna High Court had directed the Election Commission to countermand election in constituencies where persons who were in jail as undertrial and had no right to vote had contested election. It was stayed by the Supreme Court, being in the middle of the election process. However, similar measures may be adopted before the election process begins, i.e. such persons may be debarred from contesting election at that stage alone.

It is sad that only a few educated persons exercise their right to vote. Making voting mandatory for all who are eligible and mentally and physically fit to caste their vote should check this callous approach.

Mostly they who cast vote are not truly aware of the inner virtues/quality of the candidate. The NGOs should come forward to educate the people in this regard.

Political parties should stop issuing ticket to persons who are involved in heinous crimes like rape, murder, extortion, kidnapping, dacoity and corruption.

R. K. GUPTA, Mohali

Make EC powerful

Amend the election laws to make the Election Commission "sovereign head of elections". The list of tainted politicians should be supplied to be Election Commission before the election. This competent authority should reject applications of tainted politicians, but the candidate should also be given the opportunity to reform himself or herself.

Fast-track courts should be set up to decide the cases of corrupt and criminal politicians with in a period ranging from three to six months at the maximum. Decisions related with violence or disputes during election, if appealed, should be heard by the Election Commission itself. The ECís decision should be final.

A convicted politician, if punished by the fast-track court, should be allowed to appeal to the apex court, but his being tainted politicians should stand as before till the decision of the apex court comes.

Law of the country should be strict and loopholes in it should be plugged. The Judges can help in this matter by delivering quick and fair verdicts.

ZORA SINGH, Muktsar

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