The perception of corruption is quite different from the corrupt act. Yet, it is of great importance when the electorate judges the credibility of a political organization. This perception is gaining in relevance in India.
Take the “cash for votes” phenomenon. Not only does it have past corroboration—the fact that allegations had earlier been raised—but it is also perceived as an attack at the very foundation of democracy—the right of the voter to express his choice without being influenced or coerced. Add to this the increasingly murky investigations into the 2G scam (including the death of a close aide of former minister A. Raja), as well as delays over other corruption probes. What emerges is a severe picture of dishonesty and vice.
The country’s top leaders may, of course, have a clean hand in all this. But correcting the government’s image will prove to be tricky.