Political Economy of Criminalization and Corruption

align="left">The recent election results in Maharashtra and byelections in states reinforce the disturbing trends in our political economy. In Maharashtra, India’s leading industrial state with the highest per capita income among major states, neither of the major parties have shown the vision and sense of purpose to transform the economy and governance. With political process increasingly losing its legitimacy, a one-time mafia don, Arun Gawli, and a few others with notorious record of crime, have become law-makers.

Our Democracy Has Done Well; But Could Do Much Better

dir="ltr">Over the years Indian democracy has certainly stood the test of time. Among the nations liberated after the Second World War, India has a unique record of successive elections and, stable and peaceful democracy.

Kelpto-plutocracy and Radical Monopoly

dir="ltr">From times immemorial, politics and business have been inextricably linked together. Clean politics needs clean money. Good and sustainable business needs political support.

Image building at public cost should end

dir="ltr">Can governments of the day advertise their accomplishments at the cost of public exchequer before elections are notified? The question needs to be answered at two levels.

Choice, Competition, and Politics

dir="ltr">A glaring feature of this election is the large number of politicians switching party loyalties before the polls. In states where Assembly elections are held simultaneously, these pre-election defections are even more glaring. The ninety-seventh amendment to the Constitution, which became law only a few weeks ago, disqualifies all elected legislators who violate party whip irrespective of the size of the defecting faction. The earlier provision recognizing a ‘split’ if a third of the members defect has been repealed. But no law can prevent the pre-election defection.

Priceless Opportunity Squandered by Nitpicking

dir="ltr">The recent enforcement of a ban on political advertisements on television raised some controversy. The Election Commission (EC) and the Union Government are busy throwing blame on each other for this ban. Irrespective of who is right, or wrong, this ban raises several fundamental questions about our democracy and nature of political campaigning. We need to address and resolve them speedily.

Criminalization of Politics - Cause or Consequence?

dir="ltr">With the political temperature rising in the country, the recent DP Yadav episode once again focused attention on criminalization of politics.  Why do parties admit and nominate criminals as candidates? Clearly, they perceive that the winning chances are enhanced by nominating them. The parties have not taken a vow to destroy India. They are only prepared to do whatever it takes to win the elections and once victorious, to retain power.

The Idea of India in Danger

dir="ltr">One of the important features of Indian polity since 1996 is the rise of coalition culture at the union level. After decades of single-party dominance, we are now getting used to coalition governments. Happily, coalition governments have proved to be stable and conducive to economic growth. This experience forced Congress to forge pre-electoral alliances just as BJP did in 1998. Clearly, in the foreseeable future we will have coalition governments at the national level. This is a welcome development, as only a coalition will reflect India’s diversity.

No Substitute to Politics

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dir="ltr">James M Lyngdoh – a man well-known for unimpeachable integrity and impartiality, is also famous for his intrepid and sharp remarks. His recent utterances deriding politicians created quite a flutter.

Politics, Crime and Corruption – Systemic Imperatives

dir="ltr">The arrest of Amarmani Tripathi, a former minister in UP, on charges of murdering Madhumita Shukla, and the unabashed defense of the accused by chief minister Mulayam Singh Yadav exposed the crisis confronting our criminal justice system as never before. The behaviour of two successive governments led by bitter rivals – Mayavati and Mulayam Yadav – is identical in a criminal case involving their political colleague. Tripathi switched loyalties and joined the BSP faction which defected to Mulayam’s side.