Ever since people of the country came out on the streets, lit candles, held protest marches and clashed with the police, many had made direct and oblique references to the political culture of parties turning a blind eye towards giving tickets to candidates accused under different sections of Indian Penal Code for crimes against women including rape. The clamour for the clean-up of the political class seems to be only getting stronger.
With help from his friends and associates, Srikant Sastri, a Delhi-based entrepreneur and angel investor, has started a campaign called 'Save The Republic - Resign Before Jan 26th' on Facebook and Twitter to ask two MPs and 42 MLAs, accused of crimes against women including rape, to voluntarily tender their resignations before Republic Day. The data has been culled together from the affidavits submitted by candidates to the Election Commission of India and the various state election commissions.
Of these accused, six MLAs are accused of rape. As many as three of them are from Samajwadi Party (SP): Sribhagwan Sharma, Anoop Sanda and Manoj Kumar, all from Uttar Pradesh. Mohd Aleem Khan from BSP is another such accused from the same state. BJP's Jethabhai G Ahir from Gujarat is the other.
Thirty six other MLAs have declared that they have other charges of crimes against women such as outraging the modesty of a woman, assault, insulting the modesty of a woman etc. Of these, six MLAs are from the Congress, five from the BJP and three are from SP.
UP has the maximum number of MLAs (eight) who have declared that they have charges of crimes against women, followed by Orissa and West Bengal with seven MLAs each.
Two MPs, namely Semmalai S of ADMK from Salem constituency in Tamil Nadu and Suvendu Adhikari of the Trinamool Congress (AITC) from Tamluk constituency in West Bengal, have declared that they have charges of crimes against women, such as cruelty and intent to outrage a woman's modesty etc.
Speaking to IBNLive, Sastri said, "While we understand that being accused for a crime and being convicted are not the same, given the level of public outrage, the lengthy judicial process and the haplessly low conviction rates, we believe it's time for the political parties of the country to try to reclaim the higher ground."
The campaign, launched in the first day of the new year at 12 midnight, seeks voluntary tendering of resignations on part of the elected representatives. "We do not want confrontation, we want dialogue with the parties, we want them to take this step out of self-realisation. As part of the build-up plan, we are also trying to reach out to the youth of our country by directly campaigning in colleges apart from running the e-campaigns," Sastri told IBNLive.
"We wanted to fix the date for January 26 not just because it is our Republic Day but also because a lot of people believe that attitudinal changes towards women is a time-taking process and are bogged down by a sense of helplessness. We wanted to put a time-frame to this to also let the political parties have a chance to show the people that they could act swiftly and decisively," Sastri added.
Incidentally, political parties gave tickets to 260 such other contesting candidates in the Legislative Assembly elections held in the last five years who have declared that they have charges of crimes against women such as outraging the modesty of a woman, assault, insulting the modesty of a woman etc.
Out of the 260 candidates who declared that they have been charged with crimes against women, 72 are/were independent candidates, 24 have been given tickets by the BJP, 26 by the Congress, 16 by the SP and 18 by the BSP.
Maharasthra has the maximum number of such candidates (41), followed by Uttar Pradesh (37) and West Bengal (22).
In the 2009 Lok Sabha elections, political parties gave tickets to six candidates who declared that they have been charged with rape. Out of these six, three are from Bihar, one from Delhi, one from Uttar Pradesh and one from Andhra Pradesh.
Thirty four other contesting candidates from the 2009 Lok Sabha elections declared that they have charges of crimes against women.
Maximum cases of crimes against women are against candidates from Bihar (9), followed by Maharashtra (6), and Uttar Pradesh (5).