22 June, 2021

Poll Vaulting Bandits

Do voters really care about corruption? The figures tell a story.

Illustration by Saahil
Poll Vaulting Bandits

The central question in the turmoil inside the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) is one of how astute is the Indian voter? Arvind Kejriwal, as reported, believes the voter is susceptible to rhetoric and indifferent to corruption. Yogendra Yadav and Prashant Bhushan believe the voter is contemptuous of the corrupt, the communal, the criminal. After the Delhi election results, pundits were quick to attribute moral acuity to voters—that they had taught the haughty and mighty a lesson.

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. What Jayalalitha did was to make an emotional appeal to voters: as leader of her All-India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) party, she implored the voters of Srirangam...

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