Crime & Money: Biting the bullet of the ballot-3

Crime, power politics and money go together. With the intent to cover up their deeds, criminals enter politics and politicians in power freely use criminals. Crime increases as politicians wield power to take on the law. How will the anti-corruption crusaders-turned-politicians handle this?

Misuse of both money and muscle power is tricky to prove through data analysis. Public outcry against DP Yadav and Amarmani Tripathi only resulted in their kin getting tickets! Laloo handed over the reins to his wife Rabri Devi. Such manipulation makes a mockery of the democratic system. It is no national secret that crime, especially committed with backing of politicians, is grossly under-reported and the issue of black money in politics is too deep. It is what drives Indian politics. One of the steps to deal with this was getting candidates to mandatorily disclose assets and criminal cases. But this is merely the first step. Everyone operates benami accounts and who has ever heard of Income Tax or enforcement officials unearthing undeclared wealth? Does mandatory disclosure of assets achieve the intended purpose? We aggregate the affidavits filed in 2009 by close to 8000 candidates.

(X axis indicates names of states. Y axis indicates average of declared total assets in affidavits for all candidates in that state and with/without crime record separately. Size indicates votes polled in particular state-crime record category. Intensity of colour shows rank of candidate in constituency. Darker means better relative rank.)

A consolidated picture above gives insights into peculiar state-wise differences in role of money and crime. In one view, we explore interplay of multiple factors as mentioned, for all candidates based on their affidavits.

  • • Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Karnataka and Uttar Pradesh stand out in gathering high vote-counts and top ranks in respective constituencies, for candidates with higher assets and a criminal record. (All factors on average)
  • • West Bengal is low on the quantum of assets possessed by candidates, in both with/without crime-record categories. Cadre-based affinity to ideology or low state and private sector activity, possibly precludes the impact of big money unlike some other states.
  • • In Tamil Nadu, large number of rich candidates fights elections without success.
  • • In general, power of the gun works. Candidates with criminal records do better in securing top ranks in their constituency.

Next we look at characteristics of only the winning candidates on same graph setting

  • • The role of money in Andhra Pradesh is too stark. Victorious candidates, who also have huge assets declared or have a criminal record, seem to be able to attract large votes.
  • • Haryana, Maharashtra and Punjab also demonstrate correlation between high personal assets and votes polled by winning candidates.
  • • Maharashtra and Jharkhand are only states that show greater number of votes polled by winning candidates with criminal records than other winning candidates in the state. That these states rank high on corruption is no secret.
  • • Karnataka and Uttar Pradesh have higher scale of assets with criminal MPs.

    Key Factor 1: While affidavits reveal little except indicate trends and patterns at the larger level, the role of crime and money is established with distinct patterns in states. Linked with need to have large number of volunteers as mentioned already, candidates will need to plan to both counter and cater to money factor.


    The representative nature of the electoral system has also been under cloud on charges of nepotism. The data analysis of the two mainstream national parties shows distinct patterns. Some painstaking work in collating such work is done by We use that database for below graphic visualization.

    In terms of sheer numbers family background stands out as primary contributor to the Lok Sabha, second only to those who join in without significant political background.  What is also noteworthy is that between the two, Indian National Congress (INC) has significantly greater proportion of members from family background in current parliament. More worrisome, Congress has 22 of 23 youngest MPs with family background in politics. If suitable talent is not available in country then one could have agreed but with huge role of money in elections and other electoral reforms pending and in the overall context of ills plaguing the country, nepotism is serious issue. The indicator also points to growing chasm with Gen Next, who do not find the right people to represent their voices in parliament.

(About the graph: Data related to all MPs from the top two parties in current the Lok Sabha is taken across age (year of birth) and background dimension. The background prior to joining politics is classified into eight prominent categories and based on year of birth, the members of the current Lok Sabha are spread over these eight categories. Intensity of colour in each intersection of DOB and Background is proportional to seats obtained with DARK RED indicating maximum in that row and DARK BLUE the minimum. Base data obtained from site (

The other issue with nepotism relates back to the role of money and crime. If a politician loses, dies or is jailed, the clamour to get a relative in the chair is too stark. It is almost never a public demand but power struggle within the party, with party cadres, beneficiaries of the predecessors’ largesse in government and business all want continuation as does the heir. Bihar during Rabri-Laloo regime, Mulayam-Akhilesh-Dimple in Uttar Pradesh, Andhra after YSR are just few cases in point.

“Winnability” of such privileged candidates and their having come through the electoral route is often used in their defence. This is fallacious logic on the very premise that it acknowledges party failure to build leadership within. But it is real politik that anti-corruption crusaders will have to be alive to.

Key Factor 2: A new entrant sans political background in his/her family, stands better chance of getting a party ticket outside of Congress. Other parties may be shade better. But if not nepotism, they score high on presence of criminals/corrupt businessmen with vested interests.


It is a daunting task for a new entrant to make any headway in today’s politics. Analysts and fans of Team Anna have cautioned them on the pitfalls ahead. This is probably why Kiran Bedi has sided with the BJP. Congress is smug in the belief of having dragged and derailed the movement and is secure in its ability to crack the electoral maths.

The role of in-depth analytics, drilling down to even greater detail to each assembly segment and taluka/tehsil/block or even village and individual voter levels is already established in crafting political divides for end-results. Rahul Gandhi has Kanishka Singh, and Nitin Gadkari has Arun Narendranath, Akhilesh has Abhishek Mishra—Ivy League and IIM grads guiding them to analyse each move on the chess-board where we are pawns.

Beyond the novelty factor of new entrants in politics lies hard leg-work, clever strategy and lots of money to mobilize and hold a minimum number of people. Without key electoral reforms, the dice is heavily loaded against the new political parties, particularly if they have higher moral ground to stick to. Also, same strategies that work for mainstream parties will not work for such new parties. They have the benefit of some excellent brains but at the same time their cadres will need to trust the leadership on matters of strategy, which need to be closed-door to be effective.

 (The purpose of the article is to provide aggregate trends, patterns and analysis. References to any individual names is kept minimal and is not central to the analysis. All raw data used in analysis is sourced from official Election Commission and other GOI websites,,, ADR India and other prominent election data websites. While all attempts to retain data accuracy are made, given the nature of manual data capture from scanned affidavits, missing data, etc, there may be errors in source data. Such inaccuracies can be corrected if brought to notice. )

Sandeep Khurana is Founder and Principal Consultant, QuantLeap Consulting services, based at Hyderabad. An ex-Army officer, he is well-read and experienced in govt and corporate sectors. Sandeep holds a management degree from Indian School of Business. He has interests in social issues, analytics and game theory. He can be reached at [email protected] or his twitter id @IQnEQ.


1 decade ago
dear Sandeep, your analysis is bingo. keep it up. but good electoral analyses like these certainly make very disappointing stories. And that's the reason why all the good people keep away from politics. -Abdul
1 decade ago
Sandeep Khurana - Even party like BJP with RSS/Jan Sangh ideology we are told there are politicians both elected and party bearers with criminal background. Why BJP is not allowing Parliament to run? If they are not interested to serve the nation(I am usinr their lingo) by electing themselves, let them not contest the election and serve the nation from outside. They want to have the cake and eat it also, want all the perks as elected reps but do not want to do their rightful job. Another problem we are facing is, no major party is getting required majority, have to depend on parties like, SP/BSO/TD/TC/DMK/ADMK etc. who try to extract maximum mileage in such situation. Let God Save India.
Sandeep Khurana
Replied to GOVIND GOPAL SHANBHAG comment 1 decade ago
Agree with you. Some of the issues you raise on power of small parties, find proof in part 1 and 2 of the analysis. Electoral reforms and cleaning from within by getting elected - is also a chicken and egg situation. But public awareness has undergone sea change in recent times. Its impact on ground needs to be seen in coming elections.
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