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Gangster of Kanpur

Focus: GS 2: Criminalisation of Politics, Police Reform

Why in news?

police team had gone to arrest wanted criminal Vikas Dubey at Bikaru village in Chaubepur area of Kanpur. Eight policemen died on the spot in the firing between Police and Criminals, while seven other police officers were injured.

Reason for illegal activities.

The gangster Vikas Dubey is emblematic of the nexus between politics, crime and policing in many parts of the country.

Criminal gangs shielded by politics and police forces that bend to caste, communal and political vested interests form a malevolent circuit that perpetuates itself

and rewards its patrons

Role of Police

  • The police force is the coercive arm of the state often in direct contact with ordinary citizens.
  • The quality of policing therefore has an outsized impact on the overall quality of governance.
  • Poor training, an alienating and dehumanising work environment, corruption and a lack of resources add to the crisis in policing.
  • Politicians in power often use the police for their personal gains, which is a violation of individual integrity.

Main reasons for Criminalization of politics:

  • Lack of political will: Representation of the People Act, 1951, deals with disqualification of candidates against whom charges have been framed in court for serious offences. Therefore, in order to curb criminalisation of politics, Parliament needs to bring an amendment in the Act.
  • Use of muscle and money power: Candidates with serious records seem to do well despite their public image, largely due to their ability to finance their own elections and bring substantive resources to their respective parties.
  • Narrow self-interests: Some voters tend to view such candidates through a narrow prism: of being able to represent their community interests by hook or by crook.
  • Lack of Choices: Sometimes voters are left with no options, as all competing candidates have criminal records.

Data on Criminalization

  • 46% of Members of Parliament have criminal records (including minor offences like “unlawful assembly” and “defamation”).
  • Current Lok Sabha MPs have the highest (29%) proportion of those with serious declared criminal cases compared to its recent predecessor

What is the way out?

There are three possible options.

  1. Political parties should themselves refuse tickets to the tainted.
  2. The RP Act should be amended to debar persons against whom cases of a heinous nature are pending from contesting elections.
  3. Fast-track courts should decide the cases of tainted legislators quickly.

Other suggested measure to curb criminalization of politics:

  1. Bringing greater transparency in campaign financing is going to make it less attractive for political parties to involve gangsters.
  2. The Election Commission of India (ECI) should have the power to audit the financial accounts of political parties.
  3. Broader governance will have to improve for voters to reduce the reliance on criminal politicians.
  4. The Election Commission must take adequate measures to break the nexus between the criminals and the politicians.
December 2023