MCD polls: Arena for mammon and felon

The report says 18% of candidates belonging to the AAP for the upcoming MCD elections face criminal cases, followed by the BJP and Congress.
MCD Polls campaign image used for representational purpose. (File Photo)
MCD Polls campaign image used for representational purpose. (File Photo)

A poll reforms body, Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR), which is headed by a retired professor from the Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad, has released a very interesting document about the candidates in the fray for December 4 polls of Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD).

The report says 18% of candidates belonging to the AAP for the upcoming MCD elections face criminal cases, followed by the BJP and Congress. On the other hand, the BJP has topped the list of ‘crorepati’ candidates, followed by AAP and Congress. It must have been like swallowing a bitter pill for the ADR to come out with this report drawing on the ‘criminal’ character of the AAP. Like several NGOs, ADR too were part of the social sector conglomerate which supported the ‘India Against Corruption’ campaign of Anna Hazarein 2011, which was spearheaded by Arvind Kejriwal, then a social activist.

The report released by the ADR on the MCD polls says, “Among the major parties, 45 (18%) out of 248 candidates analysed from AAP, 27 (11%) out of 249 candidates analysed from BJP and 25 (10%) out of 245 Congress candidates are facing criminal cases. At least 19 from AAP, 14 from BJP and 12 from Congress are facing serious criminal charges.” Those from Indian cognoscenti still willing to give a thumps up to AAP as national operative should weigh the contents of this report. Kejriwal in his pre-political days was known to often watch 2001 Bollywood flick ‘Nayak’ for inspiration to fight corruption. Those who were close to him then say that he saw for himself the role of Shivaji (played by Anil Kapoor) to cleanse the political system of corruption and criminality.

Siddharth Mishra
Siddharth Mishra

The ‘Nayak’ has come a long way from the dreamy days of fighting a depraved political system to not only becoming part of it but also adding with strength to the entrenched decadence. The party which fought its first elections meeting expenses by crowd funding and saying that “take money and liquor from others and vote for AAP,” today has sufficient moneybags to take care of its own such expenses.

The ADR report says, “The role of money power in our elections is evident from the fact that all major political parties give tickets to wealthy candidates. In all, 162 (65%) BJP candidates, 148 (60%) AAP candidates and 107 (44%) Congress candidates have declared assets valued more than Rs 1 crore. The average of assets per candidate contesting in this election is Rs 2.27 crore, up from Rs 1.61 crore in 2017. The average assets per candidate for BJP is Rs 4.04 crore. For AAP candidates, it is Rs 3.74 crore and for Congress it is Rs 1.98 crore.”

Thus, the upcoming MCD polls would all over again dash the hopes of the tax-payers and middle-class, who backed the Anna Hazare movement, to witness a “free and fair” poll in city. Today there are not very many contesting the polls from AAP with the same profile as of those who had contested the first election under it’s banner in 2013. They for sure cannot match the financial and law-breaking muscles possessed by the candidates who have been fielded in the upcoming polls.

This note doesn’t purport to be a certificate to the two other major contenders – Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Congress of doing any better on the clean politics index. But then this could be treated as a warning for them that their challenger is equally well-armed with felony and subornation to take them to the cleaners in the upcoming polls. Watch out for another battle between the unclean promising to clean the city.

Sidharth Mishra
Author and president, Centre for Reforms, Development & Justice

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