Chaitanya Kalbag on the “cess pool” of state elections

Chaitanya Kalbag has a nice column in today’s Economic Times about whether the issue of corruption will figure at all in the upcoming five state polls due to kick off in February. Uttar Pradesh, of course, is the prize everyone has their eyes on. But there are several states of consequence that will go to polls in the next few weeks: in addition to UP–Punjab, Uttarakhand, Manipur, and Goa.

Kalbag is rightly skeptical that Prime Minister Modi or any other major political leader will take serious steps to cleanse what he calls “India’s political cesspools.” Kalbag very graciously cites my forthcoming book to justify his skepticism:

“Just as markets feature intermediaries who match buyers with sellers, political parties have embraced and promoted candidates with criminal links, drawn to their deep pockets at a time when the cost of elections has exploded and party organizations have atrophied,” writes Milan Vaishnav in ‘When Crime Pays: Money and Muscle in Indian Politics’, to be published this month. Vaishnav, a senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, adds: “Loophole-ridden campaign finance laws have been no match for the torrent of undocumented cash that those with criminal ties are able to marshal.”

The whole piece is worth reading. You can find it here.