The recent spate of killings in the city has prompted the President to order the Police to eliminate the underworld with the support of the Army where it is necessary. Though it sounds timely and a welcome decision, it should not be forgotten that this is not the first time such decisions have been taken to demolish the underworld.

The issue has come up from time to time under different Presidents and different administrations in the past several decades. However, the vigour of the underworld has not diminished; it has remained same or has grown even stronger with the passage of time. Then how has it survived with all the efforts at the highest level to eliminate it?
The reasons are obvious. The politicians of both mainstream political parties particularly in the city perhaps with few exceptions work in cahoots with the underworld which has become an integral part of their support network.

Whenever there is any publicly declared war against the underworld they go underneath, move away from open criminal acts but continue to engage in other illegal acts and businesses like drug peddling. When some election either national or local is nearer they get a new lease of life as their services become needed again by the politicians.

With this type of life cycle, elimination of the underworld has become a near impossible task. There is definite interdependency among politicians, drug business and the underworld – they need one another for survival. This has become more relevant with the proportional representation system of elections and the dogfight for votes in the city.

Now the electoral reforms are very much in the cards, these efforts should go hand in hand. As long as the link between the drug trade and politics is prevalent it is difficult for any government to dismantle the underworld. Modifying or doing away with the PR system will make the politicians less dependent on the underworld.

In such a scenario they will have to concentrate more on their locality for votes and the need for collecting votes from the entire district and the question of winning by hook or by crook using the likes of underworld will not arise.  Similarly, the need for colossal amounts of money for electioneering also will diminish thus reducing the dependency of politicians on the drugs trade.