Corruption appears to be the underlying theme of the five-year BJP governance in the State. The former Chief Minister B.S. Yeddyurappa, former ministers G. Janardhana Reddy and G. Karunakara Reddy, and other BJP leaders are facing serious charges of corruption. Even in the Opposition camp, Janata Dal (Secular) — JD(S) — leader H.D. Revanna is accused in alleged illegal procurements made by Karnataka Milk Federation (KMF). Mr. Yeddurappa has since left to form his own party — Karnataka Janata Paksha.
Will these affect the prospects of the parties in the legislative elections? Or will Dakshina Kannada, whose leaders have not figured prominently in the scams, overlook corruption as an issue?
For party sympathisers and cardholders, the corruption scandals have little effect on their voting preferences. Subramanya Rao, a retired doctor, said he would continue voting for the BJP as the allegations seemed “politically motivated”. “Why did the Lokayukta investigate mining only from 2007, when the BJP was there? There has been mining from the time of S.M. Krishna, but this has not been revealed,” he said.
For those who point out at scams that surround the UPA at the Centre (2G, Coalgate and defence deals), Nobila Mascarenhas, who runs a laundry shop, defends it saying “those found guilty” have been sent to jail, while the rest of the allegations are “politically motivated”.
For the fence-sitter, it is corruption in the State that weighs the scales against the BJP. “It is very embarrassing to have a CM and other ministers go to jail. Karnataka has become known for corruption now. People had voted for the BJP hoping there would be a change in governance, but the situation has become worse. Obviously, a lot many will vote against the BJP,” said Ravichandran K., an autorickshaw driver.
However, for most who talked to The Hindu, local area development such as roads, water and electricity, overwhelmed corruption in State or national politics as an electoral issue.
T.R. Bhat, president of Anti-Corruption Forum, believes corruption will be the main issue in the election. “The past five years have been bad for the image of the State. That, coupled with increasing awareness about these issues among ordinary voters, this election is a perfect platform to show politicians that corruption affects votes. If the present government is voted out, it will be a warning to the coming government; that is, to tell them that if they too are corrupt, they won’t have a chance for re-election,” he said.