People's Democracy

(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)


Vol. XXXIII

No. 42

October 18, 2009

BUILDER-CRIMINAL-POLITICIAN NEXUS

 

Reality Meets Bollywood

 

IT has been the staple fare of Bollywood films – the criminal-builder-politician nexus. The present state assembly polls in Maharashtra show that Bollywood is not far from reality, at least in this aspect. Only, this time the builders and the super rich have overtaken the criminals in terms of number of candidates. Out of the 60 seats in Mumbai and neighbouring Thane district, there are 40 builders in the fray from the four main parties, apart from a score of independents. The Congress tops the list with 13 such candidates, followed by BJP with 10, NCP with 7, and Shiv Sena and MNS with 5 each. In terms of crorepatis, there are 122 of them fighting from these 60 seats and their total assets value – as per their own declaration – is a whopping Rs 849 crores!

 

These details have been compiled from the data of the 470 candidates of different political parties out of the total 705 candidates, compiled by Maharashtra Election Watch, which has bodies like Association for Democratic Reforms, Public Concern for Government Trust and other NGOs.  They are still compiling the details provided by the Independent candidates.

While Mumbai City has 10 seats, Mumbai Suburbs has 26 and Thane 24 – a total of 60 seats – which would play a crucial role in the formation of the next government.

“Our survey has thrown up interesting results – while the number of crorepati candidates have gone up (since the last elections), the number of people with criminal background contesting elections, have come down slightly,” said Ajit Ranade of Maharashtra Election Watch.

The maximum number of criminal cases against a candidate is 23 and is that of Independent candidate Bhavesh Bhinde, who is contesting from Mulund. The famous gangster Arun Gawli, who is president of Akhil Bharatiya Sena, has nine pending cases against him. Gawli is a sitting MLA from Chinchpokli and is now contesting from Byculla. As per the Election Watch data, the total number of candidates with criminal records in these 60 seats is 126. Of these, MNS has maximum candidates with criminal records – 24. Shiv Sena follows closely at 22 with BJP at 9, Congress 8 etc. Among the 122 crorepati candidates, Congress has maximum with 22 followed closely by Shiv Sena and MNS with 19 each. The BJP has 12 and NCP 8. Among the high profile builders include Raj Thackeray, Manohar Joshi, Congress minister Suresh Shetty, Mumbai NCP chief Sachinn Ahir etc.

 

Although this criminal-builder-politician nexus has been operating in Mumbai for the last many years, what is new is the scale and their blatant attempt at legitimisation through elections. Moreover, the overt distinction is getting quite blurred with many leading politicians turning themselves or through their family members into builders. And this nexus is now spreading to all other major cities of Maharashtra – Nashik, Pune, Nagpur, Aurangabad and parts of Kolhapur. Clearly, in these neo-liberal times they are not satisfied with mere back-seat driving of the government. They want to have a decisive say. And the buorgeoisie parties, which are heavily dependent on these moneybags, are more than willing to let them have it.

A recent classic example is the repealing of Urban Land Ceiling Act by the government of Maharashtra. Of course they had an alibi of citing the central government's condition of releaing JNNURM funds only to states that repeal these Ceiling Acts. But this one decision of the state government has freed up around 30,000 acres of urban land, mostly in Mumbai and Thane, and other cities of the state for “development”. These lands, which were set aside by the government under the Ceiling Act, could well have been utilised by it for providing house-sites for the poor and middle classes by the government. But then they are the government of the rich by the rich and for the rich. Why would they do such a thing.

(NSA)