Even as the Supreme Court has issued a slew of directions to cleanse the existing political system, the “criminalisation” of politics remains a matter of serious concern in Bihar with the state reporting a whopping 122 per cent rise in number of candidates with criminal antecedents joining the poll fray in the past decade. Currently, only those convicted by a court of law stand disqualified from contesting elections, and not all those facing criminal charges even as serious as murder, kidnapping, rape and extortion.

According to the latest report of the Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) and National Election Watch (NEW), around 70 per cent of the 40 Lok Sabha Members from Bihar have criminal cases pending against them while 50 per cent of them face serious criminal charges such as murder, kidnapping, robbery and rape.

The report was released on Sunday. The BJP which won 22 of the 40 LS seats in Bihar in 2014 has the highest number of parliamentarians with criminal antecedents. “About 70 per cent MPs have declared criminal cases against themselves during 2014 polls as against 42 per cent in 2009 and 38 per cent in 2004,” ADR’s state coordinator Rajiv Kumar said.

He said during the 2004 LS polls, the number of contestants with criminal antecedents was 83 which rose to 162 in 2009 and 184 in 2014. “This is 122 per cent rise in number of candidates declaring criminal cases against them,” Kumar said adding that the number of parliamentarians having criminal cases pending against them had grown by 87 per cent.

The report finds the scenario in Bihar assembly equally worrying. As per the report, the number of lawmakers facing criminal charges has grown by 43 per cent in the past decade.

Right now, a total of 140 elected lawmakers out of Bihar’s total 243 face criminal charges, as per the report. Of them, 34 belong to Rashtriya Janata Dal, 27 from the Janata Dal-United, 19 from the BJP and 11 from the Congress. The RJD has 80, JD-U has 71, BJP has 53 and the Congress has 27 members in the Bihar assembly.