ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Corruption and Fairy Tale Elections

Graft is a major issue in people's lives, but it is unlikely to figure in voter choice in the assembly elections.

A mini-general election will be upon us in February as five states go to the polls. Given the high-pitched outpourings on the electronic media around the anti-corruption campaign and the live coverage of the proceedings in the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha on the Lokpal Bill, we have been led to believe that corruption will be one of the key issues in the elections. The anti-corruption crusaders, led by Anna Hazare, have promised to put all their vaunted strength, now somewhat dented by the feeble response to their last campaign, to ensure the defeat of the Congress Party for bringing in a weak Lokpal Bill. But will corruption actually be a determining factor?

Given the pattern of voting over the last decade and more, it is clear that the Indian voter is not lured by catchy slogans or media campaigns. This was especially evident during the 2004 general elections when the National Democratic Alliance’s India Shining campaign failed to bring it back to power. An obvious message from that spectacular failure was that success on the hustings in India depends on a whole host of local factors and is determined by what voters see on the ground and not by an apparent hawa that only psephologists and media commentators seem to sense. So corruption might be an issue in television studios and on talk shows, but it does not necessarily translate into voter choice on the ground.

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