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Criminalization of Politics in India

by Sanjenbam Jugeshwor Singh
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Criminalization of Politics in India

All those who exercise power over others must be spiritual, not just religious in the ordinary sense of the term, by manifesting, more or less the divine within, by which they will use that power, for the good of the people, to serve the people. Whatever be the development of a nation, it cannot be great if character does not develop. We must become a great people in a great nation and not remain small people in a great nation. Despite the best intentions of the drafters of the Constitution and the Members of Parliament at the onset of the Indian Republic, the fear of a nexus between crime and politics was widely expressed from the first general election itself in 1952. In fact, as far back as in 1922, Mr. C. Rajagopalachari had anticipated the present state of affairs twenty five years before Independence, when he wrote in his prison diary: “Elections and their corruption, injustice and tyranny of wealth, and inefficiency of administration, will make a hell of life as soon as freedom is given to us…”Criminalization of politics is a major issue of concern in the Indian politics. When crime becomes highly visible on the political agenda and with it new problems emerge in politics, development of unholy nexus between criminals and politicians is called criminalization of politics. It is, therefore, essential to know the meaning of crime and politics.
When, political power is used by self-interest-seeking persons for nefarious and pecuniary gains or various other advantages, such as, to get special position in administration, or to rise to the higher stage of administration which is normally not feasible. Hence, where political power has been or is being used by some persons for the attainment of undue privileges and when this is rampant in the arena of politics it is generally called criminalization of politics. To get undue favour or to gain something not legal or normal through the use of political power has been termed as crime. Here the word crime is used in politics in special sense. The term crime means an action which constitutes a serious offence against an individual or the state and is punishable by law. Hence, gaining something by the use of political power is a crime and is also punishable. For example, an officer in administration wants to be promoted to higher post which is not his due. The person succeeds in his mission by using political power. But the matter does not stop here. The person who helped to get undue privilege will again use this person tor the achievement of his purposes which are, in normal course, not due. This is the policy of give-and-take and this happens behind the curtain. The use of political power is not something new. Even in ancient Greece politics was used by people for personal gains or for rising to a higher stage of power. The misuse or abuse of political power greatly pained. Some people earned property and built up wealth through unfair means and this created un-equalities in wealth and power. So wealth was used to get patronage in political arena and political power was also used to get wealthy.
The most important cause of criminalization of politics is the unholy nexus between politicians and bureaucracy. From the 1970s, however, individual bureaucrats came increasingly to ally with individual politicians or political parties. When the party they allied with was in power, they get the best postings. In return, they energetically implemented the partisan agenda of the politicians”. This undesirable and dangerous relationship between bureaucracy and political leaders opened the door of criminalization of politics. The interference of politicians in the administration may be regarded as another reason of criminalization of politics. The way the government is now run means that the disciplinary hierarchy of the civil services has completely broken down. A subordinate who does not measure up and pulled up by his superior knows that he can approach a politician, escape the consequences for his own misdeeds and cause the harm to his superior” In the 1970s this started in embryonic form and today this has assumed an epidemic. Most of the politicians of modern India interfere with administration in one form or another. The civil servants are becoming more and more corrupt, so also the politicians. The net result is politics is, ultimately, criminalized. Caste and religion both are equally responsible for the criminalization of politics. In bureaucracy there are certain fixed procedures and rules in the promotion. But caste and religion both interfere in this process. Less qualified and inefficient civil servants get promotion. The quota system is fully responsible. It has been found that a minister of a particular caste or religion will distribute favour to the members of his own caste and religion. In many states of India this is found. The Panchayat elections, like other elections, in the recent past, have demonstrated again that there can be no sanctity in India as long as politics continues to be based on caste and religion. The influence of muscle power in Indian politics has been a fact of life for a long time. The politicians are thriving today on the basis of muscle power provided by criminals.
The common masses that constitute the bulk of voters in most cases are reluctant to take effective measures that would curtail the criminal activities. Once the political personalities join the criminal elements, the nexus becomes extremely dangerous. Many of the politicians chose muscle power to gain vote bank in the constituency, and normally they assume that if they were unable to bring faith in the community, then they would generate fear or threat to get the power in the form of election. The political parties and independent candidates have astronomical expenditure for vote buying and other illegitimate purposes through these criminals or musclemen. A link between the politician and criminals in a constituency provides a congenial climate to political crime. Those who do not know why they ought to vote comprise the majority of this country. Therefore, majority of voters are easily manoeuvred and purchased. Most of them are individually timid and collectively coward. To gain their support is easier for the unscrupulous than the conscientious. It has been long established that criminals being wooed by political parties and given cabinet berths because their muscle and money power fetches crucial votes. Elections are won and lost on swings of just one percent of the vote, so parties cynically woo every possible vote bank, including those headed by accused criminals. On the eve of general election the leaders of the party give promises to the electorate. The purpose is to win the election. If the party luckily comes to power, the members of the ruling party try to implement the promises. The dark side of this situation is the party in power does not consider the feasibility and rationality of the action or promises unreasonable and impractical ways and techniques are adopted. This is a cause of criminalization of politics.
Today, criminalization is a fact of Indian electoral politics, and for this, the voters, political parties and the law and order machinery of the State are equally responsible. In actually delivering good governance, people have very little faith in the efficacy of the democratic process. This extends to accepting criminalization of politics as a fact of life. This process is further encouraged by the toothless laws against the convicted criminals contesting the elections. Un-development, illiteracy, poverty and prismatic nature of Indian social system are collectively responsible for the criminalization of politics.
(Writer can be reached at: [email protected])

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Imphal Times is a daily English newspaper published in Imphal and is registered with Registrar of the Newspapers for India with Regd. No MANENG/2013/51092


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