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'There is huge awareness among people about their candidates'

Last updated on: March 07, 2009 00:10 IST

The general elections are round the corner and there is a great deal of activity where the fielding of candidates is  concerned. What we have noticed in the past few elections that there is a great deal of debate regarding the background of a candidate. The Association for Democratic Reforms has managed to create an  awareness among the voters regarding the candidates that they have been voting for.

Professor Trilochan Sastry of the Indian Institute of Management Bangalore, the founder member of the ADR spoke to Vicky Nanjappa .

Are you happy with the kind of candidates that have been floated for the general elections this year?

It would be too early to say anything. But I would like to add that as per the current list of candidates, there seems to be a marked improvement.

Have political parties been supportive of the campaign started by the ADR?

It looks like. Parties have said that they would ensure that there would be careful while selecting candidates and at the moment it seems as though they have kept up their word.

What about the public? How has the response been?

The response has been good. I would say that there is a huge awareness that has been created and people are  becoming more and more conscious about the candidates that they would be voting for.

Looking at the initial list of candidates there appears to be a marked improvement. However it cannot be said that parties are free of tainted or criminal candidates. Are they plans of approaching the Supreme Court on this issue?

Well, we have not planned anything as yet. However if the need be, we shall surely approach the courts too.

You say that the campaign started off by the ADR has been successful to a large extent. Could you quote a few  examples?

I could quote the Gujarat example where the percentage of candidates with a criminal record came down to nine per cent from 19 per cent. Also there is the case of  D P Yadav who was expelled from the BJP since he had 30 criminal cases against him.

When you make public, the criminal antecedents of a candidate it is fine. What about the educational background. Is that necessary?

We are focusing more on disclosure rather than disqualification. What is the harm in disclosing the educational qualification of a candidate. Let the voter decide.

Another thing that I have noticed is that there seems to be more number of candidates with a criminal background in the regional parties compared to the national party. Why is that?

Yes there are more such candidates in regional parties. I am saying this based on the percentage. However I really have no idea why the regional parties have more such candidates.

This entire process is comparable to the Al-Capone story. Could you tell us more about it?

The FBI managed to nail Capone for tax evasion. They never managed to nail him for murder. It is difficult to nail corrupt politicians. Hence I thought that the best way to do so would be on a technicality. They can be nailed based on their own disclosures.

Vicky Nanjappa in Bengaluru