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THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
M A I L B A G

Political parties should ignore criminals

V ESHWAR ANAND in his article, “Polity under strain: Making political parties accountable” (Sept 14), rightly stressed the need for an effective legislation to regulate the political parties’ conduct. Sadly, the world’s largest democracy seems to favour only goondas, criminals and the like. Our weak laws and irresponsible leaders have made a mess of the system.

Nehru once said that if people were not vigilant, our democracy would pass into the hands of criminals. This has come true in the 60th year of our Independence.

Under the Representation of People Act, 1951, convicted MPs and MLAs face no immediate threat to their membership. It says a person convicted of any offence and sentenced to imprisonment for not less than two years shall be disqualified from the date of such conviction and shall continue to be disqualified for a further period of six years since his release.


 

According to sub-section (4) of the Act, the disqualification will not take effect in case of a person who on the date of the conviction is an MP or MLA till three months have elapsed from the date or, if within that period an appeal or application for revision is brought in respect of the conviction or the sentence, until that appeal or application is disposed of by the court.

This needs to be amended in a manner that once a criminal case is registered against any person, he/she should be banned to contest any election till acquitted by the court.

S.K. KHOSLA, Chandigarh

II

The political parties have been dodging almost every task they are supposed to deliver. Sometimes they arrogantly try to bend the system to remain out of the pale of political ethics. On some occasion, a political party deflected the motions in Parliament just to delay the passage of the Bill.

Parliament’s precious time is wasted in slogan shouting, fisticuffs, walkouts and adjournments. Even when there is a debate on an issue, it is insipid and lacklustre. It is time political parties were made responsible as transparency is the touchstone of accountability. In a democracy, as the writer has aptly pointed out, the voters have the right to know what was promised and what has been accomplished. The political party has to be accountable for its actions. Needless to mention, if a political party fails to comply with the norms of the Election Commission including proper documentation, it must be de-recognised after a warning.

Lt-Col CHANAN SINGH DHILLON (retd), Ludhiana

III

I agree with the writer that corruption, coupled with indiscipline and criminalisation of politics are the bane of our democratic system. If the government of the day finds it difficult to eliminate these, the Election Commission should be empowered to stem the rot. At present, it has no powers to stop criminals from entering the representative institutions.

Since a majority of MPs and MLAs are involved, directly or indirectly, in the criminalisation of politics, why should they burn their own building, built with the bricks of such cooperation from the criminals during the elections? In fact, criminalisation of politics is a blot on our democracy.

A criminal, once elected to Parliament or state legislature, is treated like a deity and all his sins are washed away by this entry. Worse, even old people double the age of the tainted politician touch his feet to have his blessings. This nuisance must end.

MULTAN SINGH PARIHAR, Jalari (Hamirpur)

IV

Politics must be used as a mission in one’s life to improve the condition of the people. It should not be considered as a lucrative profession or to promote the leader’s family and business interests.

To ensure inner-party democracy, a fair, transparent and genuine election of the president and other office-bearers is a must. Lawbreakers should not be allowed to become lawmakers. The vote-bank politics is a bane of the Indian political system. It is a shame that political expediency is considered a boon rather than a bane.

All political parties must introspect and try to evolve consensus against giving tickets to those with criminal antecedents. They are expected to rise above petty politics and also of the undue “winnability” factor of the candidates. The political parties should fulfill the people’s basic needs and other necessary expectations. They must strive for politics of development and not politics of confrontation.

GURDERSHAN SINGH,Chandigarh

 

Shahpur Kandi project

I read the report “Lack of bill, red tape hit project hard” (Aug 29). It may be reiterated that apart from irrigation and power benefits accruing from the Shahpur Kandi project, its construction will enable optimum utilisation of the power potential of the Ranjit Sager Dam.

The Ranjit Sagar Dam Power Plant is a peak load power station which requires a balancing reservoir downstream to absorb di-urnal changes in the flow of water. There is very little storage at Madhopur Headworks; Shahpur Kandi Dam will provide the necessary storage capacity.

The Punjab government, which is very keen to increase power generation to meet the acute power shortage, should ensure that the construction of the project goes full blast to achieve its completion promptly.

G.R. KALRA, Chief Engineer (retd), Chandigarh

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