The right wing Bharatiya Janata Party, which last week won a thumping majority in the 543-seat Indian parliament to form the next government under its Prime Minister -elect Narendra Modi, had campaigned on promises of good governance–especially after a series of allegations of graft under the previous Sonia Gandhi-led UPA government that was routed in the recent elections. But clearly it didn’t take a good look at its own candidates as more incoming legislators than in the previous government are charged with a variety of crimes including murder, attempt to murder, communal disharmony, kidnapping, crimes against women, amongst others, according to a democracy watchdog.
The Association for Democratic Reforms sourced the data from the sworn affidavits that the candidates had filed with the Election Commission of India. (You can see its full report here.)
In an analysis of the 541 lawmakers who won the elections (the documents submitted by the two remaining candidates were poorly scanned and hence illegible, ADR says), it found that 186 or 34% of the winners have criminal cases pending against them, up from 30% in the last government that was elected in 2009.
(According to ADR’s party-wise break up, 98 of BJP’s 281 winners have a range of criminal cases against them pending, in comparison to 8 of Congress’s 44 winners.)
Within those 186 winners, 112 (or 21%) lawmakers have cases related to murder, attempt to murder, communal disharmony, kidnapping, crimes against women pending against them. This is up from 77 winners or 15% in the previous government
Of the nine winners who have cases relating to murder against them, four are from the BJP and one from the Congress.
Seventeen winners have cases related to attempt to murder outstanding. Of these, 10 winners are from the BJP.
Of the 16 winners with cases related to causing communal disharmony 12 are from the BJP.
Of the 10 winners with cases related to robbery and dacoity, seven are from the BJP.
Of the seven winners cases related to kidnapping, three are from the BJP.
ADR’s analysis also found that in India it pays to be a criminal. Reason: candidates with criminal record had a 13% chance of winning, almost three times higher than the 5% chance to win for candidates with clean records.
And money also matters. Of the 541 winners analyzed , 442 (82%) are millionaires (in Indian rupees), up from 300 in the 2009 elections. Within this group, 237 were from BJP’s 281 winners and 35 from Congress’s 44 winners.
Age and education of their lawmakers has mattered to an extent to the Indian electorate.
Of the winners, 202 (37%) lawmakers are between the ages of 25 and 50 while the majority 298 (55%) are between 51 and 70 years old, with a tiny 41 (8%) winners are above the age of 71.
One winning lawmaker (from the regional Telugu Desam Party) is illiterate while 23% or 125 winners are high school graduates, at most. Another 405 winners (or 75%) have college degrees, at least.
On the gender front, despite women’s issues being one of the key campaigning platforms in this election, of the 541 winners, a tiny 11% or 62 women won. This was marginally higher than the 2009 elections where 57 winners were women. According to this report, this will make it the highest number of women lawmakers in Indian history. (However, at the same time, the newly elected lower house of Parliament will also have the least number of Muslim lawmakers in 50 years: only 22 Muslims have won, less than the 29 in the last election in 2009.)