Criminal candidates have an edge

Successive governments have tried to stop the leakage of money from government grants into the hands of goons and now it appears that the government’s attempts have made a dent. People standing for elections are finding it difficult to raise money. Earlier it was easy. Just syphon off money meant for the poor. Take this money to fund election campaigns and then persuade the very same people they’ve stolen from to vote for them.

Now the subsidies are going directly into people’s accounts and the Aadhaar card has made it difficult to steal.

This does not mean that criminal legislators and parliamentarians will soon be a thing of the past. Here’s why:

Political parties want candidates with money because standing for elections costs money. And unfortunately, the people who have money and also want to be politicians are often those with a criminal background. So it’s not difficult to guess why criminals get tickets.

Criminally minded people want to get elected because becoming an elected representative of the people is a get-rich-quick scheme for them. It’s been proven that wealth increases out of proportion to their income after they get elected… so naturally, criminals want to be politicians.

Politics also offers a lucrative career – a 2013 study showed that the average wealth of sitting legislators increased 222% during just one term in office.

And let’s not forget that research has shown that criminal candidates have a better chance of getting elected. This means that people prefer criminal candidates.

But why? It’s not because they have been bribed because the bribes are just the icing on the cake. People vote for criminal candidates because these goons have clout in society and at times can help deliver justice in a milieu where institutions aren’t working as they should. Some people believe that a powerful criminal can do more for them than an honest one because the latter may not be able to fight the system.

That is why even though it’s become more difficult for criminals to steal from the poor, it doesn’t mean that the stealing will stop. Loopholes can be found and criminals are after all, criminals, and they will make money somehow and they will continue to contest the elections and will continue to get elected.

A corrupt system takes time to correct itself and old habits die hard. One can only pray that the government thinks up ways to legitimise funding of elections and makes the process more transparent. That is the only way to stop criminals from entering the legislature or the parliament.


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