Written by Umang Saini
Come 2014, ~750+ million strong Indian voters will get a chance to elect new representatives for the sixteenth Lower house of Indian Parliament. 543 seats will go for election sometime around April-May. In the current 15th Indian Parliament, about 30% of these had ongoing criminal cases against them. Interestingly, only 14% of candidates contesting 2009 general elections had criminal cases against them, which indicates that having a criminal case improves ones odds of winning significantly (more than doubles the probability of winning).
Further sub-dividing the category shows that 14%, or about 75 candidates have serious criminal cases pending against them. According to this article in TOI, in these constituencies voters don't really have a choice because majority of candidates contesting there have serious cases pending against them.
Coming to the point of this post, this is not a political blog, but cometh the hour and cometh the topic. This post points two instances in which current administration was involved. It's merely informational for voters to make up their minds. I haven't included my opinions in the below mentioned facts.
- Office of Profit - The story broke when few significant MPs (Members of Parliament) were forced to resign, as they were found holding other offices which pay them. This was a blatant breach of Constitution, which doesn't allow elected public servants to hold paying posts outside their official duties.
The bill was sent back by former President Dr. Abdul Kalam remarking - 'to reconsider the propriety of the applying the law with retrospective effect', among other objections. Here's a quote from this TOI April 2008 article -
"Disqualification of SP MP Jaya Bachchan for holding an office of profit opened the floodgates for complaints against over 50 sitting MPs which were onpassed by the President to the Elections Commission as required under Article 103 of the Constitution.Realising the gravity of the situation, the Office of Profit bill was passed by Parliament with retrospective effect ostensibly aimed at nullifying charges of disqualification against the MPs."
- XIX CWG Delhi 2010 - The original estimated budget for the games was $270mn in 2003. Eventually official reports put it as $1.9bn, a 600% increase. And this was for the games related expenses. Unofficial estimates put the figure closer to $10bn, if one adds infrastructure related expenses. There are several pending cases listed here, and below are selected two -
- TSR - There were two companies in contention for the timing contract. The bids were $27mn and $10mn. Guess what? The $27mn bid won, by changing the eligibility criterion after the fact. This was pointed out by the second company to Indian authorities and now forms the basis of the case.
"Two bids were received for TSR contract from Swiss Timing and MSL Spain and they were opened on 4 November 2009. However, much before that, on 12 October 2009, Kalmadi and Verma had announced that the contract would be awarded to Swiss Timing." (Link)
- QBR - This is another well publicized case, where CWG OC awarded transportation work for Queen's Baton rally at excessively high rates, which in some cases exceeded the cost of new cars being paid to rent cars for one day.
"The UK government has stated that apart from 2,47,469 pound, a figure of 25,000 pound (Rs 17 lakh) is being transferred every month into the account of UK-based AM Films. A rough estimate reveals that nearly 450,000 pound (Rs 3.06 crore) has been transferred to AM Films till now." - Link
I will be posting few more of these as we approach the General elections. We will have a litmus test preview in New Delhi Elections later this year in November.