The 17th Lok Sabha will see the highest number of members of parliament facing serious criminal charges like rape, murder and kidnapping, since 2004.
While 29% of the MPs have self-declared serious criminal charges against them, 84% of them have declared having assets worth more than Rs. 1 crore, according to the latest report by the Association of Democratic Reforms.
BOOM utilised the report by ADR to gain insights in the demographics of the newly formed lower house of the Indian parliament.
A Historic Mandate
The 2019 general elections concluded on May 23, 2019, with the Bharatiya Janata Party winning 303 out of 542 seats - which would enable the party to form a government even without its allies.
Most of the campaign season was focused primarily on the potential prime ministerial candidates, namely Narendra Modi, Rahul Gandhi and small list of aspiring regional leaders.
Now that the winners of the elections have been announced, the ADR report on the financial and criminal background of the newly elected MPs paints a dark picture of Indian politics.
Rise In MPs with Serious Criminal Charges
According to the report, 43% of the newly elected MPs are charged with criminal offenses, while 29% of them are facing serious criminal charges such as murder, rape and kidnapping.
According to ADR, a criminal charge is considered serious for the following cases:
- Punishments of 5 years or more or if it is non-bailable
- Electoral offences (such as bribery)
- Assault, murder, kidnap or rape
- Offences mentioned under the Representation of People’s Act, 1951
- Offences of corruption, under the Prevention of Corruption Act
Comparing the data since 2004 , we can observe a steady rise in the number of MPs with criminal record. However, if we look at non-serious crimes and serious crimes separately, it paints a whole new picture.
From 2004 onwards, the percentage of MPs facing non-serious criminal charges have been between 12% to 15%, with 14% of MPs in the 17th Lok Sabha facing such charges. However, if we look at the percentage of MPs facing serious charges, the number goes up with every general election.
While only 15% of the MPs in the 15th Lok Sabha had declared serious criminal charges against them, the number for the newly formed Lok Sabha has reached 29% - signifying a 106% increase in the last 10 years.
BJP, sending the highest number of candidates to the parliament, has 87 of its members facing serious criminal charges, while 29 others face charges for non-serious offences.
JD(U) sent the highest percentage of candidates with criminal cases, with 50% of their MPs facing serious criminal charges, while 31% faces other non-serious charges - thus leading to 81% of their overall members at the parliament facing some form of criminal charge.
With regards to the number of MPs facing serious criminal charges, the highest number fall under 'attempt to murder' (30) and 'hate speech' (29), followed by 'crimes against women'(19), 'murder' (11) and 'kidnapping' (6).
Furthermore, out of the 19 MPs charged with 'crimes against women', 3 of them are charged with rape.
Also, 10 newly elected members of parliament have already been convicted of crimes, and some of them are facing further criminal charges.
Dean Kuriakose representing INC in the Idukki constituency of Kerala has declared a staggering number of 204 cases against himself, out of which he has already received a conviction. These cases included serious crimes such as committing culpable homicide, house trespass, robbery, criminal intimidation etc.
How Money Talks In The 17th Lok Sabha
As per the classifications done by ADR, which divides the asset groups of contestants into five categories, 49.4% of contestants fall into the topmost rungs – with declared assets of more than ₹5 crores.
Almost three-quarters, at 72.6% of incoming MPs, fall in the top two rungs, or those having assets of more than ₹2 crores.
While an incoming BJP MP will have average assets of the ₹14 crores among a cohort analysed by the ADR, an MP of the TDP will have average assets of ₹132 crore among their 3 incoming members.
This bucks a trend of the Andhra parties (YSRCP and TDP) being among the richest, which can be read here.
Meanwhile, the richest candidates this phase are all political heavyweights, with Nakul Nath, son of Madhya Pradesh CM Kamal Nath leading the pack. His total assets stands at ₹660 crores, and he is the richest parliamentarian by assets in the incoming Lok Sabha.
This list also included two members of the Badal family hailing from the Shiromani Akali Dal in Punjab.
Leaders from Andhra Pradesh find themselves occupying three in the top 10 candidates with the highest assets, with Uttar Pradesh and Punjab having two spots each.