Defections, Democracy

We have come a full circle to another round of defections. The Congress party has seen the exit of a prominent youth face, Jitin Prasada, to the rival BJP bandwagon in the run-up to the Uttar Pradesh Assembly polls. BJP, on the other hand, suffered a loss of face in West Bengal when its top functionary Mukul Roy ended his short-lived fascination for the saffron politics and returned to the Trinamool Congress. Both these defections show ideology is simply a matter of personal interests for politicians. This is a far cry from the days of Independence some 75 years ago and raises a question mark on the claims that Indian democracy is maturing. More defections are in the offing from the Congress as Sachin Pilot is getting restive in Rajasthan yet again and started dictating new terms. The exit of another youthful face from the Congress to the BJP, Jyotiraditya Scindia in Madhya Pradesh, some time ago should be a lesson to defectors. He has not been given any plum post and is caught between the devil and the deep sea. Possibilities of defection are strong in Karnataka too, where the BJP is a divided house.
A good thing about the defection scene, however, is that it is not easy for defectors to pull down governments as they could in the days of Aya Rams and Gaya Rams in Haryana and other states. The anti-defection law brought forward by Rajiv Gandhi while as Prime Minister in 1985 ended that era. It was stipulated that if less than one-third of the number of legislators of a party defected, they would cease to be MLAs or MPs. This brought about a much-needed stability to governments, many of these having had to remain in power with narrow margins be it in the assembly or even parliament. The ideology of the Congress and the BJP are diametrically opposite in real terms. For the Congress, the first priority is secularism; socialism having taken the back seat. For the BJP, secularism is anathema. Jitin Prasada is obviously sensing the steady loss of relevance of the Congress on the national stage and jumped ship when the nearest opportunity beckoned him. That is, the approaching UP assembly polls, where he could be of some help to the BJP. In the case of Mukul Roy, shamelessness is his first name when it comes to defections. He has been with the Congress, the Trinamool, the BJP and is now back in the Trinamool. Chances are that his end as a politician is nearing.

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