Nothing vitiates a political atmosphere more than the gross display of money and muscle power. The concept of ‘fair elections’ is on the verge of suffering yet another jolt. And this time, 2015 Delhi Assembly elections is the likely victim. Matters have reached such a head that the Election Commission has resorted to asking the surrounding states of Delhi to make sure that no undue problems affect the elections.
The Election Commissioner met Bhimsen Bassi, the Police Commissioner of Delhi and D.M. Spolia, the Chief Secretary. The meeting was also attended by electoral officers from various districts, the Deputy Commissioners of Police as well as the Joint Commissioners. The meeting’s core focus was on strategies that could be taken to stop the inflow of cash, liquor and goons to ensure victory. This is the reason why the authorities have sought cooperation of Uttar Pradesh and Haryana, which are known to be the sources of these nefarious activities. According to the police officials, different security plans have been chalked out for every district of Delhi. Once the poll observers approve them, they will be put in place.
The gravity of the situation could be understood from the fact that in the days leading up to the polls the Delhi Police issued 1219 non-bailable warrants. A Model Code of Conduct has also been drawn up, to be followed by Delhi Police. Ever since it was implemented, the police have recovered cash worth INR 12, 20,000. They have also seized a whopping 65000 bottles of liquor. The police have also seen 142 FIRs being registered against the three major political parties. Out of these – 60 FIRs have been filed against AAP, 37 have been registered against Congress, 31 against BJP and 12 against BSP.
In the interim, police have also seized 26 unlicensed arms. The number of candidates with criminal backgrounds and those wielding the power of wealth has also increased in this edition of the Delhi elections. The Association for Democratic Reform (ADR) recently released a report, which stated that candidates with more than INR 1 crore make up 34% of the contestants. It was 33% and 23% in 2013 and 2008 respectively. Out of 673 candidates contesting from 70 constituencies, 230 are classified as super-rich..
Manjinder Singh Sirsa of Shiromani Akali Dal, with an asset worth of INR 239 crore, is the richest of all. He is contesting from Rajouri Garden seat in West Delhi. 84% of the Congress candidates are worth more than a crore. BJP comes next with 72%. AAP has its fair share with 63% of its election candidates having assets worth one crore or more. 261 of 673 candidates are yet to provide the details pertaining to the income tax paid by them.
More candidates with criminal charges against them
There has also been an increase in the number of candidates with criminal background. In 2013, it was 16%, one percent lesser than the 2015 assembly elections. However, there is a dip in the number of people with serious acts of crime such as electoral crime, homicide and crime against women. This time, it is 11% as compared to 12% in 2013. BJP leads in this regard with 39% of its contestants having serious criminal cases pending. AAP is close second with 33% of its election candidates facing criminal charges. Congress brings up the rear with 30%.
The foundation of clean politics suffered a quake when the report of a poll watchdog revealed that the AAP chief Arvind Kejriwal has 10 criminal cases against him, with the latest case being filed for alleged abetment of bribery. His party colleague Manish Sisodia has six cases against him. Surpassing them all is Shoaib Iqbal of Congress, who has 13 cases against him. He is contesting from the Matia Mahal constituency. Manjinder Singh Sirsa of SAD has also set a wrong precedent by being a contesting candidate with nine criminal cases pending against him.
The 2015 Delhi elections will also see participation of one candidate facing murder charges and eight others who have committed acts of crime against women.