Will Corruption Allegations Against BJP, Cong Become a Poll Issue?

Will Corruption Allegations Against BJP, Cong Become a Poll Issue?

India

In the past week itself, the Congress and BJP have engaged in a war of allegations of corruption against one another, with the BJP bringing up the Land Scam that Rahul Gandhi’s brother-in-law, Robert Vadra is being questioned by the ED for, and the Congress keeping its attack on the government over the Rafale Deal going.

In short, both parties have made alleging corruption against the other a central theme of their campaign for the upcoming Lok Sabha elections.

To discuss this subject, BloombergQuint spoke to Yashwant Deshmukh, MD and Chief Editor of CVoter, Radhika Ramaseshan, Consulting Editor at the Business Standard and Jagdeep Chhokar, Founder Member at Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR).

Asked about whether corruption in India under the Modi regime is as big today as it was five years ago, under the UPA government, Radhika Ramaseshan said that taking a look at Modi’s speech in the Lok Sabha on Thursday, 7 February, he made it very obvious that the next campaign of the BJP-led NDA government, would be themed around the issue of corruption.

“He gave more time to that (alleging corruption against Congress) than say an important issue like the agrarian crisis. Similarly, you have Rahul Gandhi being resilient about the Rafale Deal,” she told BloombergQuint.

However, she said, that the allegation of corruption against the BJP in terms of the Rafale Deal, was important in terms of the elections.

“When the BJP raises corruption issue right now, its not going to have the same ring of credibility as it did back in 2014. Somewhere, the Rafale Deal will ring an effect on voters.”
Radhika Ramaseshan to BloombergQuint

Is Corruption Something Key & Core to Voters?

In response to a question regarding whether these allegations of corruption against the BJP and Congress would influence the voters massively, Yashwant Deshmukh said that corruption per say, wasn’t really an issue.

“It is the ‘perceived’ corruption that becomes the electoral issue,” he told BloombergQuint.

For instance, he said, in 2013 - after the second round of UPA - CVoter surveys had found that corruption and inflation was rampant under the regime.

With the spotlight now on unemployment under the Modi government, Deskhmukh said that the issue was nothing new.

“We can safely say that the issues or complaints regarding unemployment has always been there. And it is only so big right now, is because people are choosing to focus on this instead of corruption and inflation, like earlier.”
Yashwant Deshmukh

However, as per the corruption allegations against the Modi regime in connection with the Rafale Deal, he said that he had not found any data to indicate that Modi’s popularity had gone down as a result of these allegations.

“The issues raised against Modi are agrarian, unemployment and from the middle-classes, which the BJP government tried to counter in the 2019 Budget.” 
Yashwant Deshmukh to BloombergQuint

Jagdeeo Chhokar however said that corruption isn’t really an issue with the voters. “Voters have been dealing with corrupt governments for years,” he added.

(With inputs from BloombergQuint)

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