March 23, 2015

Poll Vaulting Bandits

Visiting Fellow Praveen Chakravarty writes in Outlook: "Do voters really care about corruption? The figures tell a story." 

Excerpts below:

“… In the middle of such optimism about the enlightened voter, the byelection results in Srirangam, Tamil Nadu, declared on February 16, present a sobering reminder. The byelection was the result of a Supreme Court judgement stripping elected representatives of their office upon conviction. The byelection in Srirangam was necessitated  by the conviction of Chief Minister J. Jayalalitha in September 2014 in a corruption case… she dared voters to send a message that her criminal status, as deemed by the courts, was inconsequential and the SC ruling disqualifying her was misplaced.

The voters complied: 82 per cent of registered voters turned up and 70 per cent of them voted for the AIADMK. Never before have so many turned up and voted for one party. While byelections in Tamil Nadu have a record of proving favourable to the ruling party (as in this case), it must be noted that no byelection in the state since 1990 has seen such a massive turnout and mandate. It’s quite clear the voters had a point to prove.

… These… Examples… are merely symbolic of the larger Robin Hood undertones of Indian politics today. Notions of what constitutes a serious crime seem to vary dramatically among different sections of our society, as evidenced in electoral data… "

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