Youth organisation campaigns against criminals in politics (Superseding earlier story)

January 4th, 2009 - 10:45 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Jan 4 (IANS) Determined to do its bit to punch out crime from politics, an organisation of youngsters has launched a campaign that props up hoardings across the capital saying “Welcome to the state of criminals; 40 percent of Delhi’s MLAs are criminals”.Kaushal Mishra of the Youth for Equality said the organisation has put up 20 such hoardings at key sites in Delhi since the beginning of the year, based on what the lawmakers have said about themselves.

“We don’t make empty claims. We have proof in the form of affidavits filed by MLAs with the Election Commission, showing that at least 40 percent of them have criminal record. With such legislators, how can we expect to remove crime from the city?” Mishra said to IANS.

The Youth for Equality, which was founded in 2006 to protest the government’s reservation policy, wants to go a step further and campaign for bringing about concrete changes in the law on elections.

The government Oct 24 last year introduced in the Rajya Sabha the Representation of the People (Second Amendment) Bill, 2008, seeking to amend the Representation of the People Act, 1950, and the Representation of the People Act, 1951. It was referred to the Standing Committee on Personnel, Public Grievances, Law and Justice, which is scheduled to submit its report in three months.

The Youth for Equality has written to the chairperson of the Standing Committee, calling for a more radical change.

“The current Representation of the People (Second Amendment) Bill, 2008, is a sham exercise in the name of reform. We have asked for withdrawal of the current bill and have given suggestions for a more comprehensive bill,” Jiten Jain, a member of the organisation, said.

Suggesting reforms, Jain said: “To begin with, anyone accused of committing an offence which is punishable by five years of imprisonment should be disqualified from contesting elections, even when the trial is pending. If necessary, special courts should be formed in order to dispose cases of politicians pending before courts either for trial or an appeal.”

Stressing on a more transparency in the system, Jain said there should be electronic nomination forms for candidates so that immediately after he or she files the nomination, it is available on the internet for public viewing.

“And then, of course, the voter pool be enlarged. One way to do that is by facilitating internet voting so that a person can cast his vote sitting at his home. Efforts should be made to make voting compulsory. Only then will we be able to see any change in the system,” Jain said.

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