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regular-article-logo Saturday, 13 April 2024

Gone rogue: Editorial on cross-voting in the Rajya Sabha elections by Samajwadi Party and Congress MLAs

When the political momentum shifts decisively in favour of a particular party — the BJP is riding the crest of an electoral wave at the moment — its opponents no longer have qualms about changing stripes

The Editorial Board Published 29.02.24, 08:34 AM
Rahul Gandhi

Rahul Gandhi File Photo

India’s Opposition may be divided and, hence, a beleaguered lot. But none can accuse its members of being small-hearted. Consider the largesse showered by the Congress and the Samajwadi Party towards its principal rival, the Bharatiya Janata Party, in the latest round of elections to the Rajya Sabha. Cross-voting in Himachal Pradesh — the Congress is in power there — and Uttar Pradesh by members of these two parties earned the BJP unexpected bonuses, enabling the National Democratic Alliance to inch closer towards the majority mark in the upper House. In UP, seven of the SP’s legislators cross-voted; the party’s chief whip also resigned. But it is Himachal Pradesh that has deepened the blushes for the Opposition. The Congress’s Rajya Sabha candidate was expected to sail through, given the party’s comfortable majority in the House. Yet, once again, the Congress snatched defeat from the jaws of victory with six of its members voting against their own. Worse, there is now news of troubling rumblings within the party: several legislators are said to be unhappy with the chief minister and the son of the former chief minister has resigned. The Congress’s debacle in the Rajya Sabha polls in that state, evidently, signifies deeper worries.

This is not to suggest that the BJP is immune to such chicanery. For instance, in Karnataka, where the results of the Rajya Sabha polls went along expected lines — the Congress won three seats and the BJP one — two members of the latter defied the directive issued by the saffron party. But there is no doubting the fact that it is the Opposition, particularly the Congress, that is more vulnerable to these depredations. One reason for this is the Congress’s proverbial Achilles heel — inner feuding. The other is its moribund mechanism of managing inner schisms. But the phenomenon of cross-voting that afflicts all parties is symptomatic of a deeper challenge: the triumph of opportunism over ideology. When the political momentum shifts decisively in favour of a particular party — the BJP is riding the crest of an electoral wave at the moment — its opponents no longer have qualms about changing stripes. A law against defection cannot be an antidote to such immorality.

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