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Finally, the crucial Assembly elections and the results of 4 states are out and the writing on the wall is CLEAR. As far as not naming the CM face in any state, Prime Minister Narendra Modi took the entire responsibility of campaigning and romping home with a massive mandate in 3 states…ALL ON HIS OWN.

This move by PM Modi is also looked as a warning to the CM contenders who were tacitly given this message to perform or perish. The BJP did not want its candidates to be complacent and get the Chief Ministership for granted. The Prime Minister’s silence on the CM face was a move to actually motivate the old-timers and push them to reactivate the machinery to generate the votes.

In totality, this election will be a marker of sorts in various ways as the Lok Sabha election in 2024 is slated for April. Also it was a vote for Parivartan and even in states like Chhattisgarh and MP where the battle was supposed to be close, the Congress was bruised badly.

The recent verdict would certainly have an impact on the INDIA bloc and how Congress manages to face the situation from here. Congress’s decimation in this manner would be highly detrimental for the future of the INDIA bloc and it is to be seen how the Opposition force gets up and huddles itself to give a formidable fight to the mighty Saffron power.

As per the Association of Democratic Reforms (ADR) analysis, data on the recently concluded Assembly elections showed that 19% of the 2,534 candidates analysed in the Madhya Pradesh Assembly elections 2023 had criminal cases against them.

Of these, at least 11% candidates had serious criminal cases. Of the 230 Indian National Congress (INC) candidates analysed by ADR, 121 or more than half had declared criminal cases against themselves. For the BJP this was at 29% whereas 39% of Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) candidates had criminal cases against them.

In the case of Chhattisgarh, which went to polls on November 7, of the 223 candidates analyzed by ADR, only 12% or 26 candidates had criminal cases against them of which BJP topped the list with the highest number of criminal candidates at 25%. This was followed by INC which gave tickets to 10% candidates declaring some form of criminal case against them.

In the case of Telangana, which went to polls on November 30, the share of candidates with declared criminal cases is highest across all the five states that went to polls in November. As high as 72% or 85 out of 118 Congress candidates for Telangana that were analysed had declared criminal cases. BJP came second with 79 candidates or as high as 71% declaring criminal cases. A little less than half or 57 out Bharatiya Rashtra Samiti (BRS) candidates analyzed have criminal cases against them.

In Rajasthan, the BJP during all public rallies continuously attacked the Ashok Gehlot government for the rise in crime against women. An analysis of candidate affidavits for the state reveals that around 17% of 1,875 candidates have declared criminal cases against them. Of this, 36 candidates are accused of crimes against women including rape, according to a report jointly prepared by ADR and National Election Watch (NEW).

In the previous Assembly elections in 2018, around 15% of candidates had declared criminal cases whereas the number of candidates with serious criminal cases at that time was 15%. This time, 9% of the total candidates had serious criminal cases registered against them. Digging deep into the party wise analysis of candidates with criminal cases, 31% of BJP candidates, 24% of INC, 6% of Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) candidates declared criminal cases in their affidavits. It may be interesting to note that AAP, a party which has consistently been claiming to be a clean and corruption free image, also fielded as high as 21% candidates with criminal cases.

Unfortunately, parties across states continue to field criminal candidates for MLA elections. This is in spite of measures taken by the Election Commission of India and the Supreme Court of India guidelines to make elections free and fair and increase transparency to allow more informed choices for citizens.

However, when it comes to criminal MLAs, the blame lies not just on parties for fielding them but also with the voters for voting them to power. In the outgoing Rajasthan assembly, 23% MLAs declared criminal cases against them at the time of elections in 2018.

In Telangana more than twothird of the MLAs had criminal cases against them, whereas for Madhya Pradesh and Chattisgarh, 40% (93 out of 230) and 23% (21 of 88) respectively had criminal cases against them when they were voted to power. According to several studies done, the reason behind criminals getting voted to power ranges from lack of choices in some cases to caste dynamics, and patronage system.

Indian politicians in general have the habit of coining slogans and announcing “sweeping changes” in the society even as the reality appears to be different. Rahul Gandhi on Friday said the party should actively promote women within its organisational structure and set a target to have 50 per cent of women as chief ministers within the next 10 years.

In the recently concluded Assembly elections, even as both the BJP and the Congress took credit for having cleared the decks for the Bill, the double standards of both the parties came to the fore as in Rajasthan and most poll-bound states as the BJP and Congress allotted a miniscule amount of tickets to women.

While BJP fielded only 20 candidates which is just 10 per cent of the total 200 seats, the Congress gave tickets to just 28 women candidates. Inaugurating ‘Utsaah,’ a Kerala Mahila Congress convention, the Wayanad MP said there are numerous women leaders in his party who possess the qualities necessary to become Chief Ministers.

Earlier, reacting to the party’s trend of distributing tickets, Rajasthan’s Commission for Women and former state president of Rajasthan Women Congress Rehana Riyaz had said there was no need to bind women within the scope of any reservation. Any woman who is doing good work and has been active for a long time should get a chance.

However, BJP leader and former chairperson of the Rajasthan Commission for Women Suman Sharma had said that giving fewer tickets to women itself tells why the Nari Shakti Vandan Bill is needed. “Women are still not considered winnable and this situation is not good. At least women have started getting important ministries in the BJP government,” said Sharma.

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