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Just SMS to know if your candidate is tainted

February 19, 2009 20:55 IST

Just text-message, you will know if your candidate is tainted or not.

To stop criminalisation of politics, activists and welfare organizations have come together and started an initiative that will spread awareness about criminals in the fray at the tweak of a button or a click of the mouse.

All you need to do is to send an NC<space> <your pin code> to 567678 to get the criminal antecedents of candidates. Or you can log on to http://www.nocriminals.org/.

This service was launched in public interest on Thursday and presently gives the name of your sitting MP and whether he has any criminal charges against him.

Launching the campaign, several activists and eminent personalities praised the move and stressed the need to get rid of criminals from the political system.

Senior Supreme Court advocate and constitutional expert Fali S Nariman, speaking on which candidates could be considered as criminals, said the people very well know who a criminal is.

"If you have been charged in a court of law under the Indian Penal Code, you are a criminal. You may still be innocent in the eyes of the law, but in the eyes of the people, you are a criminal," he said.

Activist and lyricist Javed Akhtar said 'winnability' is the one main factor that has led to criminalisation of politics.

"Policital parties should ask themselves, Why do they back a criminal candidate? It is because he will amount to one more in their strength in the House. But is there anything called a free lunch? Is he going to support you for free? Will he not want something in return?" he asked.

Touching upon who could be called a criminal, Akhtar was  straightforward.

"When you get into the semantics, it means you want to circumvent the issue. The people know through their conscience and their common sense who a criminal is," he said.

On the importance of curbing criminalisation in politics, former Reserve Bank of India governor Bimal Jalan said the birth of coalition politics in the last decade was what has increased the phenomenon.

"At birth itself, the life expectancy of a government is short. Only two governments, led by the biggest political parties have survived a full term," he said.

"As we now see a pattern emerging, it is extremely important that we change the behavioral pattern of politics. Otherwise it would be too late to set things," he said.

On how the problem could be addressed, Jalan said among the first things to do is to take away the incentives of entering politics for criminals.

"Fali Narinam is with us and would know better. But I think a system where a criminal contestant cannot be sworn in (he can contest and be elected) without the pending cases solved will be a good disincentive."

"This way cases against a candidate will be expedited as his swearing in depends on it. So those who know they are innocent will not mind their cases being dealt with quickly. Those who know they have done any wrong will not enter politics fearing that winning an election would mean that their case would be dusted up and justice is delivered swiftly," he said, before quipping: "But these politicians know they can always be nominated for the Rajya Sabha."

Krishnakumar P in New Delhi