Aaya Ram Gaya Ram : The Days of the Turncoats in Indian Politics
It is untrue to say that defectors are without moral fibre; they are certainly political chameleons who are to be accorded a space in the political sphere with all precautions.
The phrase AayaRam Gaya Ram, referring to the frequent floor -crossing and switching of parties originated in Indian Politics with Haryana MLA Gaya Lal switching side thrice in the space of days. We saw this happening in West Bengal where en-masse people left the Trinamool Congress (TMC) and joined the BJP in the hope that they will contest on a BJP ticket and win. When they faced defeat, they all wanted to go back to TMC. Lawmakers and Political Leaders may not switch sides as quickly anymore, but the recent return of Mukul Roy, a key political figure in West-Bengal, and his son to theTMC has brought to the fore the alternative approaches politicians use while switching sides.The ‘I’ am back home approach or politics of ‘Prasad’(Political Power) has done a great harm to Indian Polity (for Mukul Roy said that he was back where he belonged-the TMC family). It has brought into being a plethora of questions – “Can Politics be a career, devoid of principles? Hasn’t politics got something to do with ideas and conviction? Doesn’t the kinds of switchover by the political leaders show that there is no more any concept of principled politics in this country?”
As a matter of fact, when one enters politics, s/he chooses a vehicle for his/her conviction; it is not like choosing a party the way a Graduate chooses the company that makes him/her the best placement offer. One’s party reflects not merely institutional framework for one’s personal ambitions, but the set of principles, beliefs and ideas that you are pledged to promote and defend in the course of one’s political career. Mukul Roy’s return to TMC has everything to do with the lure of power. It came about as a result of the lower and higher positions in which he and Suvendu Adhikari held within BJP. It would not have materialized if the TMC had not returned to power.
Mukul Roy’s ‘gharwapsi’ or home-coming, a euphemism for defection from BJP to TMC smack and stink of political opportunism at its worst. A self-serving and self-seeking politician is a marginal player without any mass base of their own to make any difference to the political fortune of the party he left and joined back. He has shown himself to be a man without ideological fidelity; he decided to leave because he was denied the leader of Opposition Post in the Assembly and the increasing clout of Suvendu Adhikari, who defeated Mamata in Nandigram in the recent polls also upset him. He has proved a Trojan Horse (a rogue who intends to defeat or subvert from within usually by deceptive means) for BJP.
Another turncoat Jitin Prasad, who was associated with Congress party for more than three generations, has joined the BJP ahead of Assembly Elections early next year; his decision is certainly a jolt to the Congress which was trying to revive itself in the crucial State under the guidance of the Party General Secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadera.Jitin Prasad, although a light-weight to be placed as counter weight to Yogi Adityanath, may fit in the caste equation of the Party as a new Brahmin Face. He has followed the footsteps of his former Congress colleagues-JyotiradityaScindia, HimantaBiswaSarma and Haryana heavy-weights Birender Singh and Rao Inderjit Singh. These switch overs have made the people believe that the politicians are untrustworthy, unprincipled and have no ideology. Such Switch Overs weaken the foundations of democracy and the trust of the people in democratic principles, and if the foundations of democracy get weakened, the structure will collapse one-day.
BJP is no doubt a heavily ideological Party based on the principles cherished by Jan Sangh. It is Congress’ failure to distinguish itself sufficiently in ideological termfrom the BJP that has led to its continuous decline- it not only marginalized the Congress but has almost decimated the Left. It is noteworthy that in the heyday of the Congress era, the Left continued to exist in its powerful enclaves. BJP’s current electoral dominance is the victory of its ideological dominance. This electoral dominance is evident in the desire of BJP’s senior functionaries to see a Congress-Mukt Bharat (India free from Congress/ India, rid of Congress). BJP can be credited with ideologically recasting itself away from the pseudo-secularism which is primarily responsible for the eclipse of Congress. The defectors have no interest, they join just to win elections. BJP’s idealogues such as Govindacharya successfully enriched the Party’s ideological base.
One of the most difficult tasks for a political party during elections is to keep up the morale of its cadres as well as supporters. They may be enthused about the possible victory, but that alone may not be enough to make them go door-to-door and spend their time and money for weeks to canvass for their Party or Leader. For the multiplier effect, a Political Party needs the enthusiasm of its most critical mass of people. A party’s fortune waxes and wanes depending on the levels of enthusiasm of its electorates. The most effective way of managing the morale of the critical mass of supporters is the party’s ideology. The party’s ideology lends the party supporters a mission to strive for. The BJP in this sense is a party with distinction; it doesn’t do everything for votes, certain things are done because it believes in them. The supporters are given ideological support from time to time. It uses ideology to turn supporters into volunteers and charge up existing volunteers. The exploding ideological energy is channelized into the over all party growth.
Parties moderate their ideological quotient to come to power and become mainstream. But if they decide to completely give up on their ideology, or go against it, they find the ground beneath their feet slipping. The extra swing voter won’t even come to a Party if its core base is seen deserting it. A Political Formation that does not have ideological conviction or desert its ideological base without explanation and a careful introspection, often finds itself in the dustbin of history. Mukul Roy’s home-coming is a lesson for the BJP, for anyone who professes faith in the Party’s ideology simply for his/herpolitical gains cannot be conferred upon the decision-making positions such as national Vice-President of the Party in the largest Party of the World.
Times have changed and the only ideology about which a party must bother is national interests-India First. People in accordance with the changing times and changing scenarios have moved parties. Patriots of the likes of Subhash Chandra Bose moved out of the Congress. This is a part and parcel of a vibrant democracy where things change shape for the better. Prasada’s entry in the BJP is read as timely. Consolidation of major vote banks will help BJP as an Assembly Election almost always brings local and even sub-local factors to the fore as compared to a national election. Besides, it also gives leverage to the Party Leadership in the State to handle some aspiring leaders. Given the expected time line, the BJP will be fully in poll mode by the end of the year as the polls could be notified in December. The agenda to ponder over in the BJP, however, should also be as to how a Congress man who had been a part of the G-23 group in Congress decided to leave the Congress and join the BJP. The BJP needs to see to it that Prasada’sswitch to BJP is not to capture power but to execute the Party’s ideology as he himself reiterated “It was a matter of inner calling, I had nothing to do with any individual…It is about working for the people; if I don’t have the support then how can I do my work.”
By Prof S K Agrawal
(the writer is Head, Dept of English Maharaja Ganga Singh University, Bikaner)