Criminalisation of politics means direct entry of criminals into the political parties and legislatures.It also means the use of criminal methods and tactics to influence political process and procedures. politicisation of crime on the other hand involves competitive use of antisocial force for mobilization of party funds ,management of elections and so on.
The much talked about Vohra panel report points out that the crime syndicates and mafia organizations have developed muscle and money power and established linkages with governmental functionaries ,political leaders and others.Thus the quintessence of the Vohra committee report is that crime syndicates flourish under political patronage and the politician criminal nexus was running a parallel government pushing the state to irrelevance.
As per the reports 128 M.P’s in the 14th loksabha had criminal charges .Of these roughly one third can be described as those involved in heinous crimes.This number had gone up to 153 in the 15th loksabha .Thus the public perception built over the years is that politicians and criminals have come to join hands.
The major cause for this trend of Criminalisation of politics is the decline in the quality of people taking to politics.Gone are the days when MLA or M.P was considered as one of the greatest ‘gap-closers’ in Indian politics and worked as a catalytic agent between masses and party or govt.Stalwarts like Nehru ,Kamaraj ,Patel,Shastri were people with high integrity ,commitment and dedication to the public cause.In the words of Justice Krishnayer,corruption in public life begins with money in elections.Our system of election is beset with money and muscle power and both are available with underworlds. Perhaps state financing of elections which has been a thorny issue in India is worth giving a chance.
In 2002,supreme court declared the voters right to know a candidates criminal antecedent,educational qualification,assets and liabilities.No sooner was this given effect to by the election commission politicians were up in arms.One significant instance of rejection of nomination papers was that of AIADMK general secretary J.Jayalalitha’s by returning officer citing her conviction in corruption case.
It is an internationally accepted norm that law breakers cannot be allowed to be law makers.However it is unfortunate that no countervailing force to check criminalisation of politics is emerging.In the recent periods judiciary has been stumping the criminal politician,quashing their bail application,ordering arrest warrants.Administrative reforms commissions has recommended an ethical code of conduct for legislatures.
It is necessary to carry out meaningful electoral reforms which are more than symbolic to make our parliament and other legislative bodies balanced and effective instruments of democracy and thus political life and processes be free of adverse impact of undesirable factors including Criminalisation of politics.