Denial of tickets, winnability concerns and the “Modi wave” seem to be the major reasons that are currently turning sworn political rivals into new found friends.
In UP, where the Samajwadi Party is being bogged down by falling stock after the Muzaffarnagar riots, many sense the insidiously growing popularity of the BJP.
Agriculture Minister Raja Anand Singh’s son, Kirti Vardhan Singh joined the BJP, quitting the SP. He said: “It is certainly not a political party, but a family party. Unless you are a part of the family, you cannot expect any attention.”
Meanwhile, the party’s Brahmin face Manoj Pandey’s sister-in-law Bharti Pandey too quit to join the BJP. Her husband, Rakesh Pandey, Congress leader from Rae Bareli was shot dead in July 2002. In the state, where the Congress is struggling to hold onto dear life, former Chief Minister Jagdambika Pal quit, complaining that she had been neglected.
The TDP and TSRC have been defector magnets in Andhra Pradesh after the Telangana division changed political affinities. In what was a major blow to the Congress, former Union Minister D Purandeswari joined the BJP.
Many Congress MLAs, former Ministers and other Seemandhra leaders have joined the TDP and YSRCP. Former CM Kiran Kumar Reddy resigned and is now planning to float his own outfit.
Former Minister Dharmana Prasada Rao, MLAs T Vijay Kumar and J Jagannaikulu quit to join the YSR Congress. The TDP MLA from Jukkal, Hanmanth Shinde joined the TRS.
The BJP appears to be planning an NTR family reunion of sorts by inducting Purandeshwari into the saffron party on the one hand and aligning with the TDP’s Chandrababu Naidu on the other.
The Congress suffered erosions in the North as well; MLA Jeet Mohinder Singh Sidhu and senior leader Malkit Singh Birmi from Ludhiana resigned to join the Shiromani Akali Dal. Venod Sharma, a Congress heavyweight from Haryana defected to join the HJC.
In Gujarat, where Kejriwal is unsuccessfully trying to force a confrontation with Narendra Modi, AAP general secretary Sanjeev Srivastava quit the party’s campaign committee, revolting against the state leadership, while treasurer Naman Doshi is on a “long vacation”.
In the Saurashtra region, the Congress is apparently in dire straits with former deputy Chief Minister Narhari Amin and MP Vithal Radadiya, along with son Jayesh, joining the BJP.
Winnability and long time political infirmity play a huge role in crossovers. In Orissa, veterans from both the BJP and the Congress have made a beeline for Naveen Patnaik’s BJD. Former Congress state Minister Golak Nayak joined the BJD in the presence of Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, while another former minister Kamala Das quit to join the ruling BJD.
So did ex-Finance Minister and veteran Congressman Rama Krushna Patnaik and his wife, former MP Kumudini Patnaik. Earlier senior Congress leader Hemandra Singh had switched sides to join the BJD.
Disbursal of tickets have alienated ambitious leaders. In the Left citadel of Tripura, 32 party leaders sent their resignations to Congress president Sonia Gandhi. In nearby Assam, AASU’s assistant general secretary Rituparna Baruah quit to join the BJP.
In Bihar, where Nitish Kumar’s JD(U) is bitterly fighting the Modi wave, Nagamani, head of the NCP’s Bihar unit resigned from the party. He claimed he had been negotiating with the BJP for more than two-and-a-half months.
Incidentally, Nagamani has been an inveterate party hopper. JD(U) MP Sushil Kumar Singh has also joined the BJP. Party-switching in Bihar has happened both ways -- BJP legislators Avanish Kumar Singh, Vijaya Mishra and Rama Ganeshwar Singh, joined the JD(U).
Losing Rao Indrajit Singh, it’s Gurgaon MP to the BJP and Amabala MLA ex-Minister Venod Sharma to the HJC, was a major set back for the Congress high command and the Hooda government.
Sharma was a close Hooda aide and remained with the party for 18 years. The Congress also lost former Minister Krishna Gahlawat to BJP.
The Congress UP list is stuck over two such new inductees -- Amar Singh and Jaya Prada. While Congress readily approved giving Jaya Prada the Moradabad seat, Priyanka had her reservations about giving Singh a ticket.
Political desertion is not confined to the heartland states, in far-flung Arunachal Pradesh former Congress CM Gegong Apang, joined the BJP. The most flamboyant tune change, however, came from Bappi-da. After trying his luck with the Congress in 2009, Bappi Lahiri is now tangled in the Modi wave.