Verdict 2011: The Lessons

There are three takeaways that I see in this election.

The first is the importance of good governance and development, as perceived by people (the voters). They want more – well-paying jobs, better lives, greater opportunities. The government that can deliver this to them can hope to get re-elected. Anti-incumbency is not the norm. We are seeing this time and again – a government that can deliver can expect favourable verdicts.  In other words, performance matters.

The second is that corruption matters. For long, the belief was that voters are for the most part blind to corruption. But this time around, something tripped. Perhaps, it was the figure of Rs 1,76,000 crore in the 2G scam case, or it was a series of never-ending scams coming out one after another. Blatant corruption will never become the only issue, but it is an important consideration. In other words, politicians have a choice – be clean and hope to win, or be corrupt and make money for a single-term only.

The third takeaway is that local leadership matters. It is still astonishing how many elections are fought without strong leaders at the helm of their parties.  National leaders are important, but is also very important to have regional leaders who understand issues in their state better than the ones in Delhi ever can. Political parties will need to encourage the emergence of this second- and third-line of leadership if they want to create a sustainable advantage.

Tomorrow: The Powerful States

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