Indian politicians from Congress and BJP face criminal charges

May 19th, 2009 - 10:34 pm ICT by John Le Fevre  

A report by groups working on electoral reform in India claims that 84 of the newly elected Congress party and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) politicians in India’s 2009 general elections have criminal cases pending.

According to the group, BJP has the highest number of members of parliament (MPs) facing criminal charges at 43, while the ruling Congress party has 41. The groups claim that a further 69 MPs from minor parties are also facing criminal cases.

The Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR), and National Election Watch (NEW), a civil society alliance working for clean politics and accountable governance, said it has written to senior Congress party leaders appealing for them to keep MPs facing criminal charges out of the cabinet.

India, the world’s largest democracy, completed a month-long election process over the weekend with the ruling Congress party-led coalition of Prime Minister Dr. Mammohan Singh being returned for a historic second five-year term.

Corruption and criminalization of politics are major issues in India, though the groups said that the number of candidates with very serious criminal backgrounds had declined if a comparison between the top 10 MPs facing criminal charges elected in 2009 was compared against those elected in 2004.

The group claims that 19 of the 43 BJP politicians and 12 of the 41 newly elected Congress party MPs have serious criminal cases pending.

The group said it was particularly concerned that many of the MPs are charged with serious criminal offenses, including murder and gang war.

India’s election rules do not prevent those charged with criminal cases from standing for electoral offices, they only bar those who have been convicted.

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