Never miss a great news story!
Get instant notifications from Economic Times
AllowNot now


You can switch off notifications anytime using browser settings.

Politics and Nation

The Economic Times
11,047.8018.4
Stock Analysis, IPO, Mutual Funds, Bonds & More

View: The spectre of horse trading is back to centre stage in Indian politics

Power is a great leveller and the challenge before BJP's leadership is to make an equitable distribution.

, ET CONTRIBUTORS|
Updated: Jul 14, 2019, 07.16 AM IST
0Comments
BCCL
3
Karnataka Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy at an Assembly session on July 12
If one leaves aside the twists and turns in the ongoing power tussle in Karnataka, there is nothing unexpected about these developments for two reasons.

First, from when HD Kumaraswamy became chief minister in May 2018, the alliance resembled a boyhood duo running a three-legged race with partners out of step with one another. Additionally, those not selected to run the course constantly tried tripping the two.

Second, it was obvious that the Lok Sabha results would immediately impact the government’s stability. Although one can theorise on inducements offered, there is no ignoring that the era of politicians’ declining commitment to ideology or programmes is a national reality. Most enter public life with the objective of being on the winning side. Bharatiya Janata Party leader and former chief minister BS Yeddyurappa spoke for himself, but voiced the thoughts of the larger political class, when he said: “We are not hermits.”

Political power and the lure of office is what counts and explains the still ongoing events in the BJP’s southern bastion and to some extent in Maharashtra where the leader of the Opposition, Radhakrishna Vikhe-Patil, abandoned the Congress party for a prized portfolio in the Devendra Fadnavis government. Likewise, Jaydutt Kshirsagar crossed over from the Nationalist Congress Party to Shiv Sena and secured a position in the state cabinet. But if crossovers in Karnataka are aimed at snatching reins of power and those in Maharashtra are indicative of pre-election switch over — a common phenomenon in India now (more than 70 prominent politicians crossed camps before the Lok Sabha polls and secured nominations) the surprising developments in Goa are symptomatic of the BJP’s ceaseless efforts at consolidating power even in a territory where the party narrowly lost the South Goa seat to the Congress.

Somewhat similar was the desertion of two thirds of the Congress legislative party to the Telangana Rashtra Samithi. An ‘operation’ similar to the ones in these states, is imminent in Madhya Pradesh, too, where Kamal Nath will sooner than later have to navigate choppy waters.

On the face of it, if events in these four states are to be seen as evidence of the BJP using the temptation of office, worry over action for alleged past indiscretions or misdemeanours and desire to be on the winning horse, these developments also underscore complete failure of the Congress — and the JD(S) — in coping with the post May 23 scenario.

It almost appears that the opposition has thrown in the towel despite the odd unexpected turn at the hustings — the local body polls immediately after the Lok Sabha polls provided a verdict in the reverse. This is also a pointer to the structural anomaly in Indian politics and the failure of the Anti-defection law in preventing political opportunism.

Part of the problem stems from lawmakers not being true to the primary factor behind their victory — was it due to personal popularity, ideology, party or the leadership? In many cases, especially in several elections since 2014, the primary reason for the successes of BJP candidates is the overarching idea, which has been successfully built by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. In such a situation, those who won in state elections against this tide—and this includes Karnataka and Goa — the win was essentially for an alternate idea. Lawmakers now making a beeline for the BJP are certainly betraying the mandate of the people.

Without doubt the BJP leadership’s actions in this episode are driven by one facet of Chanakya’s principles. Although the kingmaker’s historical existence is viewed with scepticism by historians, legendary tales about his successes often highlight the tactic of spotting talent in enemy camp and winning them over to destroy the kingpin. The BJP leadership certainly sees no qualms in deploying the tactic although this may dilute its ideology. Importantly, it has been able to convince its ideological fountainhead, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, about imperatives of power and realpolitik.

As a result, crossovers to the party are no longer frowned upon because the ideologically committed see consistency in pursuit of programmes which strengthens the worldview of the organisation.

The neo-converts, despite occasional unease with policies, programmes and periodic utterances of adversaries turned colleagues, remain mute because of the trappings of power. As these developments demonstrate, the BJP is no longer content with acquiring political power across states, it wishes to eliminate all opposition.

Other dominant regional parties, like the TRS, too, are following suit and much would depend on capacity of the Congress and other opposition parties, to hold on to their terrain and start an uphill climb if and when enthusiasm over the present victors ebb.

The strategy of decimating the opposition runs the risk of the ‘problem of plenty’ for the BJP. In Karnataka for instance, it will have to grapple with the situation arising from nominating as its candidates those former Congress or JD(S) legislators who resigned from the assembly to join the BJP. How the party leadership tackles aspirations of leaders who spent decades in the party, especially those who put up a credible fight in the last elections, will determine internal stability.

In a cadre-based party, the problem of dissidence is both less and more. Lesser, because the party is more disciplined and ideology acts as glue. Greater, because rising through the ranks is a given and lateral entries cause deep disquiet through the ranks. But, power is a great leveller and the challenge before the leadership is to make an equitable distribution. Success with this will ensure BJP hegemony and keep the opposition at bay.

The writer is a political commentator
(Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this column are that of the writer. The facts and opinions expressed here do not reflect the views of www.economictimes.com.)
0Comments
Comments
Add Your Comments
Commenting feature is disabled in your country/region.
Download The Economic Times News App for Quarterly Results, Latest News in ITR, Business, Share Market, Live Sensex News & More.

Other useful Links


Follow us on


Download et app


Copyright © 2019 Bennett, Coleman & Co. Ltd. All rights reserved. For reprint rights: Times Syndication Service