20 May 2019
India’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has one unwanted lead in this month’s general election race – according to data from an electoral watchdog it is fielding the most candidates among the major parties who are facing criminal charges. Its main rival, Congress, is just a step behind.
Election laws allow such candidates to run so long as they have not been convicted, on grounds both of fairness and because India’s criminal justice system moves so slowly that trials can take years, or even decades, to be resolved.
Still, the number of such candidates accused of offences ranging from murder to rioting has been rising with each election.
Analysts say political parties turn to them because they often have the deepest pockets in steadily costlier elections, and that some local strongmen are seen as having the best chance of winning.
Nearly one-in-five candidates running for parliament in the current election has an outstanding criminal case against them, inching up from 17% in the previous election and 15% in 2009, according to the Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR), a non-profit organization that analyzed candidates’ declarations.
By Munsif Vengattil and Zeba Siddqui, Reuters, 17 May 2019
Read more at Reuters
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