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Ministers with Charges
The recent general elections saw a big public campaign to encourage people not to vote for criminals. It has had little impact. Political parties successfully fielded many candidates with criminal records. According to the New Delhi-based National Election Watch (NEW), nine out of the 79 new ministers have criminal records and eight of these are from the Congress while one is from the DMK.

But look closer and you have a different picture. Most of them have charges of rioting, unlawful assembly, obstruction of a public servant – these have become a part of public life, since the State uses its powers fairly indiscriminately to quell activists, politicians and anyone who is inconvenient. Consequently, even those who are accused of heinous crimes such as murder, rape, kidnapping and theft end up being clubbed with the relatively routine charges of rioting and unlawful assembly. The Congress party ministers facing inconsequential ‘criminal’ charges include Mukul Wasnik (minister, social justice and empowerment), Ajay Maken who is the minister of state (urban development), Pratik Prakashbapu Patil (MoS, heavy industries & public enterprises), Arun Yadav (MoS, youth affairs & sports) and Pradeep Kumar Jain (MoS, rural development & panchayati raj).

The charges against a few others sound rather more serious. Gandhi Selvan S, DMK, MoS, health & family welfare, is charged with rash driving, causing grievous hurt and endangering the personal safety of others. Subodhkant Sahay (minister, food and processing) is charged with assault and use of criminal force to deter a public servant from the discharge of his duty. Harish Rawat (MoS, labour and employment) is charged with criminal conspiracy and Sisir Kumar Adhikari (MoS, rural development & panchayati raj) is charged with rioting, armed with deadly weapon.

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