Anti-graft outburst traced to evasion of poll reform

Anti-graft outburst traced to evasion of poll reform

Anti-graft outburst traced to evasion of poll reform

In the backdrop of Anna Hazare’s anti-corruption movement, Chief Election Commissioner S Y Quraishi said at a conference here that “for the last 15-18 years, we have been demanding and writing to the government to debar those who have serious criminal cases against them from contesting elections. But all political parties unanimously oppose it because they all have their quota of the people of this category.”

Quraishi said corruption in the election process and politics had led Anna Hazare and others launch the campaign. This situation had arisen because “law breakers are acting as law makers,” he said.

Through its proposal, the commission had been pressing for preventing the corrupt from coming to power.

“That’s much deeper and more basic reform. At least in those cases which would lead to five years of imprisonment and where an independent court of law has framed the charges candidates should be disqualified from contesting elections,” the CEC said.

In response to the commission’s reminders, the government had said there was no consensus among political parties on the proposal. “How can there be consensus when 40 per cent of them (politicians) have these kinds of cases,”  the CEC asked.

Political parties contended that such a law could be misused to get rival candidates debarred from contesting elections. He said “this argument” would hold good for petty cases but “what about cases of rape, murder, dacoity.”

He described Anna Hazare’s ongoing anti-corruption movement as an “unfortunate situation.” It could have been avoided had the government brought in the “basic reforms” in the election process.

“The corruption in the election process, corruption of politicians, are clogging the safety valve which is why this bursting of the pressure cooker is happening at Jantar Mantar. It was avoidable,” the CEC said.

Quraishi said the time had come for the government to take up the issue seriously and bring in “basic reforms.” It had to take steps to ensure that “this pressure-cooker like situation does not develop further.”

Corruption in the election process was destroying the “whole fabric of polity and elections unfortunately had become the biggest arena of corruption. Most of the MPs and MLAs start with falsehood.

They come with false affidavits, violate the expenditure guidelines. If you spend more than two crore to contest an elections to become an MLA, you surely will earn 20 crore because you have to pay back,” he said.

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