Why Do Corrupt Politicians Win Elections?


Why Do Corrupt Politicians Win Elections?

Illustration: Robin Chakraborty


orruption in India is like oxygen – it is integral to our lives. From the local traffic police to spectrum allocation at the cabinet level, corruption is as rampant as potholes on Indian roads. You can move your file faster in a government office if you accompany it with a bit of “chai paani”, a word we have coined to convince ourselves we are not all that dishonest because it’s not quite “rishwat”.

Corruption is a major election plank for our political parties. One party says, “Mera PM chor hai”, the other says “Tera pura khandan chor hai” and the average person on the street believes, “Saale sab chor hai”. This defeatism pervaded our Supreme Court recently, when it took the hands-off position by allowing politicians with criminal backgrounds to contest elections — so long as they were loud and clear about their criminal antecedents. This, presumably, would help the voter make an informed choice, and possibly avoid the worst among equals.