BJP’s prime ministerial candidate, Narendra Modi, has done well to stress on the need to cleanse Parliament of its criminal members. At a rally in Uttar Pradesh on Monday, Modi said that if a BJP/NDA government comes to power after the ongoing general elections, he would ask the Supreme Court to expeditiously try criminal charges against members across party lines. Those found guilty would have to vacate seats and face court-awarded punishment.
Cleansing politics is a dire need indeed. Data compiled from the affidavits of 5,380 candidates by the National Election Watch and Association for Democratic Reforms show that 880 candidates—that’s a little over 16%—have criminal charges pending against them while 550 face serious criminal charges. In March, just before poll fervour picked up, the Supreme Court provided some much-required impetus by setting a deadline—one year from the framing of charges—for the completion of trial of MPs and MLAs. So far, most political parties seem years away from withdrawing cover to members with criminal records—if at all, the case seems to be just the opposite. And criminal cases haven’t deterred parties from appointing these MPs and MLAs as ministers. Were Modi’s plan to be put in place, India’s politics could soon be a cleaner place.