Thursday 5th September 2013

For immediate release


98% of Indians want criminals out of Parliament

Poll results show MPs are defying public opinion as well as Supreme Court

 

A new Marketing & Development Research Associates/Avaaz opinion poll released today reveals that the vast majority (97.8%) of Indians back the Supreme Court ruling that politicians with criminal convictions must stand down immediately.

Ricken Patel Avaaz Executive Director, said:
“This poll could not be any clearer: the people want India’s democracy to be disinfected. Politicians love big majorities, and over 97% of people want convicted MPs to be forced out of office. The Supreme Court ruling should stand.”

This poll, commissioned by the campaigning group Avaaz, was released as MPs are set to debate a bill on Friday that would overturn the Supreme Court ruling and allow criminal lawmakers to stay in office even if convicted of serious crimes. It is rare to find an issue that similarly unifies the country -- as can be seen this breakdown of statistics here.

The poll, a representative sample of more 8,000 people across India, also showed:

  • 96.6% think that people convicted of serious crimes should not be allowed to govern and rule the country.

  • 95.1% think that is a stain on Indian democracy that so many MPs face criminal charges.

  • 87.7% think India could more easily solve its problems if there were fewer criminals in power.

  • 87.1% find it wrong for MPs to prioritise bills making it easier for convicted criminals to stay in power, given the many problems facing India.

  • 84.7% think MPs should respect the Supreme Court's judgment on convicted politicians.

The full results can be found here.

Pressure is growing across India for the MPs to respect the Supreme Court with:

  • Over 92,000 Indian citizens backing the Avaaz campaign to support the Supreme Court ruling to cast out convicted criminals from politics.

  • In less than 48 hours, 13,000 people have written directly to the Vice President in his role as Chair of the Rajya Sabha as well as to the Speaker of the Lok Sabha asking them to send the bill to a Standing Committee to ensure proper scrutiny and public consultation.

  • Yesterday Avaaz has published a hard hitting press ad in the Indian Express denouncing MPs’ fight to keep criminals in power. The ad can be seen here.

- ENDS -

For more information or to arrange interviews, please contact:
Aldine Furio on +33 686 929 330, [email protected].

Avaaz.org is a 25-million-person global campaign network that works to ensure that the views and values of the world's people shape global decision-making. "Avaaz" means "voice" or "song" in many languages. Avaaz members live in every nation of the world - our movement is spread across 193 countries on 5 continents and operates in 14 languages.

Notes to editors

In July the Supreme Court ruled that politicians convicted of serious crimes must lose their seats immediately. Parliamentarians asked the Court to review this decision, and on Wednesday the Court decided that the ruling will stand. Now parliamentarians are trying to rush through an amendment that would allow MPs and MLAs convicted of serious crimes to retain their the seat as long as they appeal the conviction.

India has some of the most notorious MPs in the world with nearly 1 in 3 Lok Sabha MPs facing criminal charges.

  • In the 2009 general elections, there were 275 serious criminal cases pending against 76 of the people elected to the Lok Sabha.

  • Overall, about 30% of Lok Sabha members and 17% of Rajya Sabha members have criminal cases pending against them, with charges including rape, kidnapping and murder.

  • For example, Bikram Singh Brahma MP (Congress) was charged with raping a woman. MLAs also face very serious cases, such as Becharam Manna (Trinamool) in West Bengal who is accused in 22 cases, including attempted murder.