Unholy politics of defection

The spate of defections to the ruling parties both in Telangana and Andhra Pradesh are in bad taste, to say the least. It is rank opportunism on the part of the Congress and TDP MLAs and MLCs in Telangana to switch over to the TRS and that of YSRCP leaders in AP to cross over to the TDP.

The argument put forward by the defecting leaders that it is necessary to be with the ruling party if his or her constituency has to be developed does not hold water. If this stand were to be accepted there would be none on the opposition benches if the ruling parties allow and encourage defections at will. People vote for party symbol and also the candidate. The elected representative has no right or liberty to cross the floor in the name of development of the constituency, which is in reality only an excuse. The real factor is the attraction of power and pelf.

Members of the House of Elders also showed no restraint in jumping onto the bandwagon of the ruling parties. Telangana MLCs like Yadav Reddy and Rajeswara Rao have absolutely no case to justify their decision to defect. It is sheer irresponsible and opportunistic politics. No law barring defections seems to be able to stem the rot and the chief ministers who have been enticing the opposition members to cross the floor are no less culprit in this dishonest game.

When Jagjivan Ram, Hemavati Nandan Bahuguna and Nandini Sathpathi left the Congress party just before general elections in 1977, there was some justification. They had decided to come out openly against the Emergency regime of Indira Gandhi. Jagjivan famously quipped at that time, ‘Indiraji took us by surprise a number of times with her midnight decisions. We wanted to surprise her at least once with our own midnight decision’. The times and conditions at that juncture were entirely different. Jagjivan Ram and his associates took a calculated risk. There was a possibility of Indira Gandhi winning elections and their being in the dock. The defectors of today have no such risk. They got their party tickets, party’s money to spend during electioneering and their leaders to campaign for them. Within a couple of months of winning elections, they defected to the ruling parties. It is not only unethical and so undefendable, it also amounts to deceiving the electorate of their constituencies besides going against the letter and spirit of the constitution.

Why talk of the lesser souls when a senior and able leader like Tummala Nageswara Rao prepared the ground for his own grand defection, nay deception. Tummala was the leader who built the TDP in Khammam right from the scratch. He was a minister for most of the time that the TDP was in power. He was considered a very close associate of AP Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu whom the former supported to the hilt in the Viceroy drama that unseated the popular Chief Minister NT Rama Rao in 1995. He did not give any indication of his dissatisfaction even when his desire to shift the constituency from Khamma to Palair was not accepted by the party leadership. He was very much a loyal party leader till he got his protégé Kavita elected chairperson of ZP. After getting the ZP and District Central Cooperative Bank in his pocket, Tummala made the move to meet TRS chief K Chandrasekhara Rao (KCR). Then he announced his resignation from the party along with his supporters in a dramatic manner. He had tears in his eyes while signing the resignation letter. Why all this? It is said that Tummala wanted to take revenge against the party leadership for sidelining him and encouraging contractor- politician Nama Nageswara Rao. There may be a point in what Tummala had to say in defence of his resignation. Naidu should have spared some time and thought to understand the agony of his colleague. That did not happen. It is difficult to blame Tummala alone. What is he supposed to do in such a situation? He could have distanced himself from the party and remained an independent leader in the district and bide his time. There are more than four years for general elections in 2019. It seems to be the turn of Talasani Srinivasa Yadav to take the call from KCR. The strategy of the TRS is to gain foothold in Khammam district and Hyderabad city. Since elections to Hyderabad Corporation are round the corner, the party leadership is eager to bag as many MLAs and leaders with mass base as possible. Vijayalaxmi, daughter of P Janardhan Reddy, a popular Congress leader who died a some time ago, is already in the TRS. The only attraction the TRS offers to prospective defectors is power and position. There is a sort of compulsion for TRS to cut corners. But there is no such factor for the TDP in AP to poach the only opposition party, YSRCP. Those who have been defecting are indulging in a nasty game of greed and deception. People who repose faith in the constitution should reject the defectors and their cohorts lock, stock and barrel.

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