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A vote for clean government

 | May 10, 2013

It is about time the Congress understood that the Indian electorate will no longer tolerate non-governance and corruption.

COMMENT

The Congress Party returns to power in the southern Indian state of Karnataka after 14 years. The party won a thumping majority in the recent Assembly elections whose results were declared on Wednesday.

The incumbent Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) lost.

The Congress was in charge of the state in 1999, and it shared the reins with the Janata Dal between 2004 and 2006.

The Congress victory comes at a time when the party has been shamed by one financial or political scandal after another that began with a scam in telecommunications and the Commonwealth games, and ended the other day with the Federal Law Minister being accused by the Supreme Court of tampering with a Central Bureau of Investigation report on coal graft.

Also, the Federal Railway Minister’s nephew has just been charged with taking bribes for positions on the Railway Board. The worst part is, the man is said to have made the deals in the minister’s office!

It will certainly not surprise me that by the time the present tenure of the Congress-led coalition ministry in New Delhi finishes in 2014, one would have seen more cases of corruption being unearthed.

It is about time the Congress understood that the Indian electorate will no longer tolerate non-governance and corruption. If the party won Karnataka, it was largely because the people of the state were sick of the BJP’s administrative mismanagement and fraudulent deals which helped politicians and bureaucrats amass huge personal wealth at the cost to the state exchequer.

Almost immediately after the BJP clinched power in Karnataka about five years ago, some of the party leaders were embroiled in scams. The BJP’s former chief minister, Yeddyurappa, had to resign, because he was reportedly involved in illegal land and iron-ore projects. He then quit the party.

As The Hindu wrote in its editorial: “The Congress might have more lessons to learn from its victory than the BJP from its defeat. If the Karnataka Assembly election is a pointer to the national mood, it is as a verdict against corruption and non-governance, not as an endorsement of the Congress and the many scams that have unfolded under the watch of the Congress-led government in New Delhi. Indeed, the fact that the Janata Dal (Secular) got as many seats as the BJP (in Karnataka) is an indication that the vote was primarily anti-incumbent and pro-change, and not necessarily pro-Congress”.

The Indian electorate, given its native intelligence, may well vote the serving Congress and its allies out of New Delhi next year for the same reason that the BJP was ousted in Karnataka.

And political charisma may no longer work with any decisive effectiveness. Modi campaigned hard in parts of Karnataka before the elections, but that did not translate into votes for his BJP.

But the same Modi won successive victories in his home state of Gujarat, and the reason is good and clean administration. Or, apparently so.

Gautaman Bhaskaran is India Editor of FMT, and Chennai-based author, columnist and movie critic. He may be emailed at[email protected]


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