Who says corruption is punished in elections?

Arindam ChaudhariNormally, it is difficult for me to be cynical like media pundits generally are. But after looking at election results in so many states since 2010, the one sad conclusion that I can draw is that the corruption card is being overstated and over-hyped.

In Karnataka, the Lokayukta, Justice Santosh Hegde accused the BJP government led by the then Chief Minister B S Yeddyurappa of corruption. Subsequently, Yeddyurappa was forced to step down. In a significant development, the Karnataka High Court actually absolved Yeddyurappa of some charges slapped against him.

Despite this, Yeddyurappa was treated badly by the top leadership of the BJP and he quit the party a bitter and frustrated man to form his own party. Yeddyurappa vowed to ensure that the BJP is given a humiliating defeat in the Karnataka assembly elections.

He has ensured that and the BJP has indeed lost very badly. Now look at what happened in Himachal Pradesh last year. Despite serious charges of corruption against him, the Congress made Virbhadra Singh the de facto candidate for the post of Chief Minister. The ‘tainted’ Virbhadra Singh led his Congress party to a very comfortable victory and became Chief Minister!

Of course, this is a surface analysis and many other factors must have played a role in deciding the results in Himachal and Karnataka. But you cannot escape the sad conclusion that corruption is overrated as an election issue. And that really is the sad news for India. That is the sad reality in India. We may talk in television studios and seminars about corruption and how voters punish the corrupt. What actually happens at the ground level is completely different.

Unfortunately, our system has become so rotten that the Indian voter really doesn't have much of a choice. But that is just one part of what I am trying to suggest; the other part relates to the suicidal behaviour of the BJP. The UPA government has become so unpopular and the average Indian citizen so angry with the Congress and its unending scams that the next Lok Sabha elections should be a cakewalk for a BJP-led alliance.

But it doesn’t look like that is going to happen. And that is because the BJP is a bitterly divided house. It is now clear that some old Delhi-based leaders of the BJP are hell-bent on not allowing space to popular regional leaders. There is still time for the top leadership of the BJP to wake up and smell the coffee. But will they?

- Author is a Management Guru and Hony Director of IIPM Think tankĀ 

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