51 Indian MPs and MLAs accused of crimes against women, BJP leads the pack
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) might be the largest political party in the world in terms of membership. But it also holds the dubious distinction of having the highest number of MPs and legislature members indicted for crimes against women, including rape.
According to a report by the Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) and the National Election Watch (NEW), which analysed affidavits of 4,852 current lawmakers across India, including 774 MPs, 51 elected representatives have declared cases related to crimes against women.
The BJP, with 14, tops the list, followed by ally Shiv Sena (7) and the Mamata Banerjee-led All India Trinamool Congress (AITC) with six.
The BJP, which rules the Centre and is in power on its own or as part of an alliance in 18 states, fielded as many as 48 candidates with declared cases related to crimes against women in various elections in the last five years.
Of the 51 lawmakers with declared cases of crimes against women, three are MPs — Shiv Sena's Rajkumar Dhoot (Rajya Sabha), AITC's Partha Pratim Ray (Lok Sabha) and Joice George (Lok Sabha), an independent from Kerala.
While Dhoot and George face charges of outraging the modesty of a woman, Ray, who represents Cooch Behar in West Bengal, has been accused of “buying minor for purposes of prostitution, etc”.
The charges faced by the 51 lawmakers include rape; kidnapping, abducting or inducing a woman to compel her into marriage, buying minors for purposes of prostitution; assault or criminal force to a woman with intent to outrage her modesty, and husband of a woman subjecting her to cruelty.
Maharashtra leads dubious list
Maharashtra leads the list with 12 lawmakers facing charges of crimes against women, followed by West Bengal with 11 and Odisha with 6.
Maharashtra also has the highest number of candidates (65), followed by Bihar (62) and West Bengal (52 including independents) who were given tickets by political parties, even though they had declared cases related to crimes against women in their affidavits.
Four MLAs face rape charges
The four MLAs who have been accused of rape are – TDP's Gonuguntla Suryanarayana from Dharmavaram constituency in Andhra Pradesh, Congress's Subal Sahu from Bijepur constituency in Odisha, BJP's Jethabhai G Ahir representing Shehra constituency in Gujarat, and RJD's Gulab Yadav from Jhanjharpur in Bihar.
As many as 456 candidates with declared cases of crimes against women were in the fray in various polls in the last five years, with 334 of them fielded by various recognised political parties.
Of these, 40 contested for Lok Sabha/Rajya Sabha seats.
A total of 43 candidates with declared cases of rape were in fray for various polls, of which 29 were fielded by recognised political parties.
One-third of lawmakers face criminal charges
As per the report, 1,581 of the country's MPs/MLAs (33%) have declared criminal cases in their affidavits.
ADR and NEW said in the report: “All major political parties give tickets to candidates with cases of crimes against women, especially rape, and therefore hinder the safety and dignity of women as citizens. These are serious cases where charges have been framed and cognisance taken by the courts. Hence, political parties have been, in a way, abetting to circumstances that lead to such events that they so easily but vehemently condemn in Parliament.”
They recommended debarring candidates with criminal backgrounds from contesting elections, mandating political parties to disclose the criteria of selecting candidates, and fast-tracking of cases against MPs and MLAs.