Once upon a time in Haryana, lived a man named Gaya Lal. In 1967, he joined the Congress, jumped to the United Front and came back to Congress and returned to United Front again—all in a fortnight—which invited the remark “Gaya Ram is now Aya Ram”. Considering BJP’s Maharashtra fiasco, it is doubtful whether he is the Ram the party swears by.
Narendra Modi’s spotless reputation is the BJP’s moral high ground. It is in his name, and name alone, that it wins elections. It is also Modi’s name that gets sullied when defectors are corralled to form governments. Politicians disguise their greed for power as hunger for change. In September 2013, the Congress failed to amend the law that barred convicted politicians from contesting elections after its ally, Lalu Prasad, was jailed for corruption. The amendment was passed in the presence of symbols of propriety like Manmohan Singh and defended by his then Cabinet minister Kapil Sibal who is now the Congress advocate against the BJP’s ill-fated Maharashtra coup. After a couple of days as Deputy CM, Ajit Pawar went back to NCP. In the short interregnum, Devendra Fadnavis reportedly dropped nine corruption cases his own government had previously filed against Ajit. As a Mumbai wag put it, Sharad Pawar is not above engineering a defection to save his nephew and embarrass the BJP.
BJP’s in-your-face tactics is not doing their voters any favours. The day after Dushyant Chautala became Deputy CM in the minority BJP government in Haryana, papa Ajay Chautala walked out of jail on a two-week furlough to celebrate Diwali. After Karnataka MLA Nagaraj defected to the BJP, his income went up by `185 crore; he bought a Rolls and gave CM Yeddyurappa a lift. Scutlebutt says Fadnavis was conned to give New Delhi the wrong numbers. However, the cynical political experiments in many states have an eerie similarity to Congress defection politics. The BJP has missed an opportunity to expose the hypocrisy of secular Congress marrying hyper-Hindutva Shiv Sena for power’s sake. It’s too late now; Maharashtra’s saffron pot is already black.
Politicians become arrogant over time, bask in the flattery of courtiers and forget that they were elected to do a job. It would have been advisable for BJP to ask Yeddyurappa, ML Khattar and Fadnavis to sit in the Opposition as penance for their non-performance. It would have given them the next five years to reflect, work to renew grassroots support and reclaim the party’s lost votes. If a day is a long time in politics, five years is a short time to correct mistakes. With power comes selective amnesia. The BJP must remember that it is not the Congress party which perfected the art of faithlessness. It is supposed to be a party with a difference, and not one which makes up the difference with defectors for power’s sake.