Eliminating corruption is seen as a practice that supports democratic governance. We argue, however, that particular anticorruption politics in contemporary India can damage the project of democratic deepening, because elites often deploy these politics against the representation of the marginalized. Anticorruption politics can subvert democratic deepening by challenging as corrupt the means by which the parties of the marginalized mobilize resources to compete in elections and by selectively targeting lower-caste political leaders for indictment on corruption charges within an overall discriminatory politics of deservedness. Anticorruption governance by parties in power seriously hinders the provision of welfare to the poor because of the technocratic and centralizing character of the governance reforms. We argue overall that while corruption is indeed damaging to democracy, elite anticorruption politics can also represent a significant barrier to democratic deepening and welfare.

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