New Delhi: One-hundred-and-twenty MPs in the 14th Lok Sabha had a tainted past. Will the next house of Parliament be any better? Going by the number of candidates put up so far with criminal charges against them, it does not seem very likely.
In the 14th Lok Sabha, one in every five MP had criminal charges against him. 21 per cent of the BJP's MPs, 16 per cent of Congress MPs, over half of the NCP and Shiv Sena MPs and every single one of the JMM's 5 MPs had pending criminal cases.
Between them, India's Parliamentarians stood charged with over 200 violent crimes like murder, rape, kidnapping, extortion, robbery and assault.
But if the candidates list of the 2009 elections are any indication, the next Lok Sabha could be even worse. Of the candidates declared so far by the six national parties, at least 70 have pending criminal cases against them; over 40 are accused of serious crimes.
The BSP has the worst record.
Mayawati has fielded many candidates with known criminal and mafia links. Some of the BSP's candidates in Uttar Pradesh, like Dhananjay Singh from Jaunpur, have multiple counts of murder and attempt to murder.
Many of these criminal-turned-politicians have only recently joined the BSP, and their tickets could be a reward for their newfound loyalty.
The BJP has also given tickets to 28 candidates facing criminal charges, half of whom are charged with serious crimes.
Even Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi - who is seen by many in the state as a paragon of good governance - has given tickets to four candidates with pending cases.
The Congress is fielding 10 candidates facing charges and the Samajwadi Party has fielded six such candidates so far. With many more tickets yet to be given out, the number of bad apples in the race for Parliament this time is only likely to increase.