By Dr. Gyan Pathak
The profiles of the chief ministers of States and Union Territories of India do not instill hope among the common people. The electoral reform that have been carried out so far in the country has only been able to provide 43 per cent of chief ministers with criminal antecedents. Moreover, barring West Bengal and Kerala , every state witnessed rise of the rich to the chief minister post, showing that the present electoral system has totally become conducive for the rich by creating numerous hurdles disallowing the common person to reach there.
Distortion of level playing field is obviously against people of clean and poorer background. Additionally, the presence of only one woman chief minister shows that our democracy and electoral system is heavily against women and has been creating gender disparity even after 75 years of independence of the country. Male domination over female in politics is deplorable.
After an analysis of the current chief ministers from 28 States and 2 Union Territories, the Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) and National Election Watch (NEW) has found that 13 chief ministers out of 30 had criminal cases registered against them which turns out to be 43 per cent.
The criminal cases were found to be of serious nature. The report has enumerated eight criteria under which a crime is said to be serious which included: Offence for which maximum punishment of 5 years or more; If an offence is non-bailable; If it is an electoral offence (eg IPC171E or bribery); Offence related to loss to exchequer; Offences that are assault, murder, kidnap, rape related; Offences that are mentioned in Representation of the People Act (Section 8); Offences under Prevention of Corruption Act; and Crime against women.
Largest number of criminal cases (64) are registered against chief minister of Telangana (TRS), followed by chief ministers of Tamil Nadu (47) (DMK), Andhra Pradesh (38) (YSRCP), Maharashtra (18) (SHS), Delhi (13) (AAP), Himachal Pradesh (4) (INC), 2 each against chief ministers of Chhattisgarh (INC), Jharkhand (JMM), Mizoram (MNF), and Kerala – CPI (M), while one each against chief ministers of Sikkim (SKM) and Punjab (AAP).
One serious IPC crime is registered against chief ministers of Maharashtra, Himachal Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Sikkim, Bihar and Punjab, while 2 are registered against chief minister of Kerala and Bihar, 3 against chief minister of Mizoram and Delhi, 10 against chief minister of Tamil Nadu, 35 against chief minister of Andhra Pradesh, and 37 against chief minister of Telangana.
It is a matter of serious concern that we have only 17 chief ministers out of 30 having clean background, that comes to only 57 per cent.
The report has found that barring the Chief Minister of West Bengal, Mamata Banerjee, all 29 chief ministers are crorepatis. It means 97 per cent of our chief ministers are crorepatis. Mamata had only 15.38 lakh of properties, while the average asset of our chief ministers is Rs33.96 crore. Mamata has no immovable asset. Chief ministers of Kerala and Haryana are among the three lowest assets chief ministers having total assets of Rs1.18 crore and Rs1.27 crore respectively.
The three highest assets chief ministers are of Andhra Pradesh, Arunachal Pradesh, and Odisha having assets of Rs510.38 crore, Rs163.5 crore, and Rs63.87 crore respectively. The chief ministers of Telangana, Karnataka and Maharashtra have highest liabilities of Rs8.88 crore, Rs4.99 crore, and Rs3.74 crore.
Only 3 per cent (in absolute number only one) of the chief ministers have less than one crore rupees of assets. Having assets somewhere between 1 and 10 crore are 60 per cent, Rs10-50 crore are 27 per cent and Rs50 crore and above are 10 per cent.
Though formal education is no criteria in electing our legislators under the Constitution of India, and that is right because we cannot politically discriminate people on any ground, it is worth noting that we have only 11 graduate chief ministers, followed by post-graduate 9, graduate professional 4, and 12th pass 3. We have one each in the 10th pass, doctorate, and diploma holder categories.
Age profiles of the chief ministers show that we have elected only one chief minister below the age of 40 in 31-40 age group. We have 4 chief ministers in 71-80, 9 each in 61-70 and 51-60, and 7 in 41-50 age group.
The data presents a case of urgent democratic and electoral reform to promote gender equality and freeing elections from the clutches of money and muscle power. Free and fair elections should be followed in real sense of the term. (IPA Service)