Candidates with criminal records is not uncommon in India’s elections; but the persistent growing trajectory is alarming.
- Almost half the number of total MPs in 2019 have criminal cases declared in their election affidavits.
- There is an increase of 109% in 2019 in the number of MPs with declared serious criminal cases since 2009.
- Nearly 29% of the cases are related to rape, murder, attempt to murder or crime against women.
- 11 members, 5 from the BJP, 2 from the BSP, 1 each from the Congress, the NCP and the YSR Congress Party, and an Independent have murder charges against them.
Criminal cases against a few politicians is not unusual in India’s political landscape. But in the last decade, that number has grown significantly, with a marked increase in candidates with serious criminal charges like murder, rape, extortion and even terror.
A recent report from Association of Democratic Reforms (ADR) revealed that almost half of the newly-elected Lok Sabha lineup has criminal charges.
An increase of 26% can be analyzed as compared to 2014. The analysis is derived from self-sworn affidavits which are submitted by candidates at the time of filing nominations.
From the 539 winning MPs whom ADR analyzed, an unprecedented 233 MPs have declared criminal cases – an increase of 44 per cent from declared criminal cases since 2009.
109% Growth from 2009
The number of criminal candidates in 2019 is showing a persistent increase from the percentage in the last two general elections. In 2009, 162(nearly 30%) out of the 543 Lok Sabha MPs had criminal charges with 14% involved cases serious criminal offences.
That number saw a sparing increase to 34% in 2014 with 184 MPs having criminal charges. The numbers for serious criminal case holders grew to 112 MPs in 2014.
But the 2019 numbers show a steep leap of almost 10 percent with 233 MPs (43 per cent) out of 539 analyzed having criminal offences declared in their affidavits.
The 2019 Parliament line up
Of the 539 winners analyzed by the ADR, the trend is led by BJP with 116 MPs or 39% of the criminal case MP lineup. Congress has 29 MPs with stated criminal cases against them, whereas JDU with 13, DMK with 10 and TMC with 9 makes up the list.
Ten of the new Lok Sabha Members have declared conviction in one or more of the criminal cases against them. Eleven MPs have declared murder-related cases (IPC-302) and 30 have declared attempt to murder cases (IPC-307).
Nineteen MPs have cases concerning crimes against women declared in their affidavits – three cases relate to rape (IPC-376) and six relate to kidnappings.
An alarming trajectory
Serious criminal cases is a trend that is forming a direction and trajectory that raises concerns.
159 (29 percent) winning candidates have serious criminal cases declared. These include cases related to rape, murder, attempt to murder, kidnapping, etc.
This number has seen an 8 percent increase from 2014 when 21 percent of 112 candidates had declared serious criminal offences against them. The numbers stood at 14% or 76 MPs in 2009. This marks an increase of 109 per cent in MPs with serious criminal cases since 2009.
Party-wise notoriety list
BJP tops the numbers, but not in ratio of its total number of MPs but because of its sheer outstanding majority in 2019. But when taking a proportionate view, it is BJP’s NDA ally and Nitish Kumar-led Janta Dal United (JDU) that has the dubious honour of highest number of criminal candidacies in the parliament.
81 percent or 13 of the 16 MPs from JDU will enter the lower house of parliament have criminal records against them. It is followed by Indian National Congress which has 57 percent or 29 of 51 of its MPs having criminal cases against them.
Next is MK Stalin-led DMK with 41 percent or 10 out of 23; Mamata Banerjee-led AITC with 41 percent or 9 out of 22; and the BJP with 39 percent of 116 out of 301 MPs it sends to Lok Sabha in 2019. In the serious criminal offence list, JDU again tops the list with 50 percent or 8 out of 16 MPs.
The lineup continues with Congress at 37 percent with 19 out of 51. BJP at 29 percent with 87 out of 301; DMK at 23 percent with 6 out of 23; and AITC with 18 percent at 4 out of 22 MPs.
Special Mention: Criminal Candidacy Idol – Dean Kuriakose (204 Criminal Cases)
The winning candidate in ‘Criminal Candidacy Idol’ contest is Congress’ Dean Kuriakose who won the Idukki seat in Kerala. Kuriakose has a mind-numbing 204 criminal cases against him – which includes culpable homicide, house trespassing, robbery, and criminal intimidation.
Criminal cases might be the key to success in India’s political-scape
In its analysis, ADR found out that the chances of winning favourably increase for a candidate with criminal offences in Indian elections. While a candidate with a clear background as a 4.7 percent chance of winning the election, a candidate with criminal cases had winning chances of 15.5 percent in 2019.
The significant increase in the figures of criminal candidacy in the lower house is an alarming trajectory that sings not just about the inefficiency of the judiciary in the country but reflects poorly on the judgements of political parties.
But most of all, it also shows the poor understanding and information comprehension of Indian voters who are largely ignorant to such information about candidates.
- Although BJP has maximum number of candidates with criminal records, JDU tops the cards in share of MPs sent to Lok Sabha 2019.
- Top five parties with criminal candidacy include Nitish Kumar-led JDU, Rahul Gandhi-led Congress, Modi-led BJP, Mamata Banerjee-led AITMC and MK Stalin-led DMK.
- 10 MPs have more than one criminal cases, 11 MPs have murder-related cases, 30 have attempt to murder cases, 3 have rape cases and 6 relate to kidnappings.
- Candidates with a criminal background had better chances of winning in 2019 at 15.5% compared to clean candidates at 4.7%.