Shri H.K. Dua (Nominated): Mr Deputy Chairman, Sir, over 45 years ago, I was in the Press Gallery above where I started my Parliamentary reporting. In these 45 years, I have travelled a distance of 10 yards to avail. These have been crucial ten yards to reach here.
Thank you, very much for giving me a chance to speak here, Mr Deputy Chairman.
In this maiden speech as you said, I dedicate myself to the service of the House and the country and the values for which both stand for.
Sir, I have gone through the Bill. It is well-meant, but I find it limited in scope and range. It tackles some of the minor glitches that have come to the notice of the Election Commission and other glitches, which have been noticed in the 57 years of the nation’s electoral experience. But these 57 years have thrown up major challenges before the electoral system and if we don’t meet those challenges, the electoral system will come into disrepute and that will pose a threat to the democracy also.
I will just mention two of them. One has been – Members have been rightly trying to focus on – the role of big money in elections. It is a serious problem. I would like to draw the attention of the House to it – the Minister and Members know about this more than me – how criminals are threatening the electoral system and the functioning of the democracy in the country.
Sir, criminals in large numbers are infiltrating into the political system. In many Assembly elections they have used their money and muscle. Earlier, they were supporting the candidates and now they themselves are the candidates. And many of them are getting elected. In many states, they are getting elected in large numbers, or they are helping the candidates of different parties to win elections by using their muscle power or money – which they extract again from the people – get into the government and influence policy-making and the decision-making of the State Governments.
As you know, even one vote can make a difference in the survival of a Government. If a single vote goes the other side, the Government can be thrown out.
The bureaucracy in the States is afraid of these criminals leaders, because they have clout with top people in many States. There is no need to mention the names here. The bureaucracy is afraid, because they will be transferred or any enquiry commission will be instituted against them. So they would not take any action against the criminals active in politics. Police officials are also afraid of taking action against criminals and mafia leaders. When criminal leaders have clout with a Chief Minister and the local bureaucracy is very deferential to them, governance in the districts is bound to suffer.
The criminals again have association with wrong kind of elements. So, the entire atmosphere gets polluted because of their activities. There is indeed a failure of the system to check their entry into the system. If this continues, imagine, if they capture a State. And then they will capture more States.
And some of the criminal groups can always form some sort of a syndicate – I am looking at the dark side – they can get together to form a syndicate and, either tomorrow or after five, or 10 years or 20 years, they can capture the States and even become a threat to the stability at the Centre. I have this fear.
The political parties need to do something about it urgently. They have to come to a consensus on how to ban the criminals at the entry stage itself.
Many parties are not stopping criminals from getting into the political mainstream, because they want to win elections, they want to use their muscle power. Then they give them seats without realising that tomorrow these people will devour the parties themselves. That is the danger not only to the country but also the political parties themselves.
What can the parties do? – Just ban their entry. There is no point in looking for security while sleeping with the enemy. They are enemies of the country. And, they are enemies of the parties themselves. The best thing is, avoid them and shun them, even if you lose an election. That price is worth paying. It is better than sleeping with the enemy.
Many people have been warning the parties against criminals. The Hon. Supreme Court made a suggestion to the Election Commission that it should take steps to prevent nomination of criminals for elections and it is the right of every citizen to know the history of every criminal.
Banning criminal candidate from filing their nomination papers when charges have been framed by a court is the right thing to do. The police can frame false charges. But, if a court frames charges, then it is the time that nomination paper should not be allowed to be filed by a person who has a criminal record, particularly if the offences can fetch a two year-sentence.
The Election Commission was in favour of it. They called a meeting of political parties. It is strange that almost all the political parties opposed this provision. One of their arguments was that frivolous charges can be farmed and even the court can approve of those frivolous charges and whosoever is in the opposition stands at a disadvantage if the charges turn out to be false.
I am sure, Mr Moily’s legal acumen and advice of this officials can find a way out and provide a safeguard against the framing of charges which are mala fide.
There should be an attempt by political parties to ban criminals at entry stage itself. There should be a serious attempt to ensure – where the charges are framed by a court law – to ban the entry of criminals into the election system by filing a nomination paper and getting elected.
There should be some safeguards to get over this particular objection. I am sure, Mr Moily, who seems to be a very earnest Minister in doing things, would include this in the comprehensive reforms he is promising to bring forward. I hope he brings these reforms soon to take care of this serious problem. Not doing at this stage will prove costly for the country and the political system. This problem is growing like cancer, because with every election – various NGOs have collected this information and the Election Commission does not deny these figures – the number of candidates fighting the elections is growing, and not going down. Some of the parties are able to deny the tickets to criminals, but others are not able to deny them the tickets.
But, in totality, their number is growing. If they capture the political system, what will be the fate of Indian democracy?
I am sure that the reforms the Law Minister intends to bring in will include this. Thank you, Mr Deputy Chairman.