K'taka & Railgate: When corruption produces ironical results

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Bangalore, May 6: How is corruption related to our politics? Does a simplistic formula work that the corrupt has no place in politics? Or is the relation more complicated? The second question demands more relevance and the May 5 assembly election in Karnataka is an indicator to that.

Common wisdom would suggest that the Congress, which has been terrible rattled by endless charges of corruption starting from 2010, would not have wasted any time to dump two of its top ministers, Ashwani Kumar and Pawan Kumar Bansal, to save some face before the election in the southern state. It would also have given a boost to the opposition BJP's strong demand for the ouster of those two ministers.

But the reality turned out to be completely reverse. The momentum that the BJP's national leadership had been building up to corner the UPA at the Centre was completely spoilt by its own local leadership in Karnataka. The result: The Congress found a welcome relief even at the hour of a new crisis and decided to retain the two tainted central ministers. The anti-incumbency factor in Karnataka turned into a pro-Congress wave and negated the even bigger anti-incumbency storm which is brewing across the nation, at least for the time being.

What is even more pathetic for the BJP is that its top leadership has been fighting hard to distance the party from corruption charges so that it could take a moral high ground vis-a-vis the Congress. The party underwent a serious turmoil to keep accused leaders like Nitin Gadkari and B S Yeddyurappa at a safe distance and take on the Congress.

But the irony is that despite all the efforts, the BJP is very unlikely to protect its first bastion in southern India while the Congress scraped through even after being cornered. And not only this. The BJP's performance in Karnataka will mean that it is nearly washed out from southern India and hand over the advantage to the Congress before the crucial Lok Sabha polls next year. The opposition will also lose its teeth to corner the Centre over the issue of corruption.

Thus, corruption has not produced same result for the two national parties. A BJP leader was heard saying that local issues won't have an impact on the national poll. But this doesn't reflect the actual picture. The BJP actually has failed to build a constructive counter-attack against the Congress and is too tied up settling its internal matters. It still doesn't know which ideological line to take and neither it has settled the leadership issue for the next big polls. It has only managed to cripple the Parliament on a daily basis over issues of corruption. The national electorate, to borrow the BJP leader's idea, is closely monitoring this as well.

The BJP's one-step-forward-then-go-haywire approach is not helping its cause at the moment.

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