It is like a suicide goal. As the outrage against the gang rape incident in Delhi grows, the Congress party on Friday asked the Election Commission to ban politicians accused in crimes against women from contesting elections.
For the Congress, the problem is that 26 Congress politicians in various legislatures are charged with a heinous crime like rape. Given the overall scenario in the country, in the past five years, 260 candidates charged with crime against women have contested elections, with 26 of them from the Congress followed by 24 on the BJP ticket.
Congress spokesperson Renuka Chowdhary said, though parties themselves should deny tickets to persons involved in such heinous crimes, a dictate from the EC would be binding and ensure a level-playing field. Demanding social ostracising of rapists, she said a beginning should be made from politicians.
According to a study conducted by the Association of Democratic Rights on the basis of affidavits filed by candidates over the past five years, 72 were independents, 16 from the SP and 18 from BSP. Ironically, maximum of such candidates (41) were fielded from Maharashtra followed by Uttar Pradesh (37) and West Bengal (22).
The affidavits with the EC reveal that six serving MLAs declared that they have been charged with rape. Of these, three are from SP — Sribhagwan Sharma, Anoop Sanda and Manoj Kumar Paras — one from BSP, Mohd Aleem Khan, one from BJP, Jethabhai G Ahir, and one of TDP Kandikunta Venkata Prasad. Further, 36 other MLAs have declared that they have been charged with crime against women, including outraging and insulting the modesty of a woman and assault. Of them, six are from Congress, five from BJP and three from SP. Two Lok Sabha MPs — Semmalai S of AIADMK in Tamil Nadu and Adhikari Suvendu of Trinamool in West Bengal — have been charged with crime against women.
Notwithstanding, demands to provide legal protection to witnesses to fast-track cases against rapists, recently a CBI special court in Chandigarh acquitted politicians and bureaucrats involved in the 2005 infamous Kashmir sex scandal, for want of witnesses either not appearing or turning hostile. The accused, Iqbal Khanday principal secretary, present Congress MLA and former minister Ghulam Ahmed Mir and Raman Mattoo former minister, along with alleged kingpin of the sex scam, had pleaded that their case be shifted to Chandigarh, saying lawyers were not coming forward to defend their cases in the Srinagar trial court.