An interesting recent article explaining why so many of India’s national level politicians have extensive – to include felony – criminal records. It apparently all boils down to money.
In the country’s last general election in 2014, 554 million Indian voters cast their ballots at 900,000 polling booths, choosing their elected leaders amongst a field of 8,250 elected candidates representing 464 political parties. While this may sound like great news for the world’s largest democracy, the remarkable thing is that one third (34 percent) of the 543 elected members of parliament (India’s version of Congress) also were facing criminal charges at the time – up from 30 percent in 2009 and 24 percent in 2004. While some of the new MPs faced misdemeanor level charges, a whopping 20 percent faced more serious charges such ranging from attempted murder to assault and theft.
According to political scientist Milan Vaishnav, who authored a soon to be released book, When Crimes Pays: Money and Muscle in Indian Politics, the reason for this is money. His take:
The rising cost of elections and a shadowy election financing system where parties and candidates under-report collections and expenses means that parties prefer “self-financing candidates who do not represent a drain on the finite party coffers but instead contribute ‘rents’ to the party”. Many of these candidates have criminal records.
Moreover, Vaishnav says, Indians are apparently less likely to be fazed by a politician with a criminal background, and that even well-informed voters may vote for criminal candidates along religious lines or by caste.
Why do Indians vote for ‘criminal’ politicians? [via BBC] and India’s New Parliament Has The Most Members Facing Criminal Charges In A Decade [via The Huffington Post]