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Goa Defection: Ethics in India Gone for a Toss?

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Dr Veda Pratap Vaidik

While Rahul Gandhi’s ‘Bharat Jodo’ Yatra (Unite India march) is progressing through Kerala the tiny state of Goa witnessed a ‘Congress Todo’ (Break the Congress) exercises.  Eight of the 11 elected Congress MLAs in Goa defected to the ruling BJP in the state and this rapid political development has taken the sheen out of the much hyped political trekking of Rahul Gandhi. Maybe that is why the BJP has chosen this time to engineer such a defection from the Congress.

The BJP has exhibited its expertise in engineering defection of party leaders and legislatures in many states these days. The Goa incident was a hard body blow to the beleaguered Congress party particularly when the grand old party was trying for a revival and rejuvenation through Rahul’s political march from Kanyakumari to Kashmir.  In the recent past the Congress has been under severe embarrassment for senior leaders like Gulam Nabi Azad left the party and aligned with rival camps.

 The Congress, in a bid to camouflage its humiliation, says that the BJP engineered defection in Goa because the ruling saffron party was shocked at the surprising public appeal of Rahul’sBharat Jodo’ Yatra.

Rahul Gandhi has denigrated the defection in Goa as ‘Operation Kichad’ (operation sludge) of the ruling BJP.  It is a fact; this defection is the blooming of BJP’s lotus in the mire of Goa.

The BJP government in Goa was already placed comfortably and with eight Congress MLAs defecting to the saffron camp, now the ruling dispensation has enhanced its strength to 28.  The total strength of the state legislature is 40 and now the BJP need not be at the mercy of petty local parties for survival.

This is not the first instance Goa witnesses such an abrupt defection of MLAs. In 2019 10 Congress MLAs had switched over to the BJP. Due to this fear of defection, this time the Congress had taken its elected legislative members compelled to take an oath in respective temples or churches as per the religion they practiced to ensure that those elected on Congress ticket will not cross over to rival camps. But this technique also did not yield because for these defectors self-interest always dominated party loyalty.

A God fearing Congress MLA from Goa, as a prelude to defection, visited a temple and asked the deity that he was in a dilemma on what to do.   According to the defector, the god advised him to act as per his conscience.

For these defectors, policy, principles, ideology and even God never matter.  They are worshipers of power. They can shift or defect in favour of power. They can bequeath anything for the sake of power. BJP as a shrewd political party has fathomed the weakness of such leaders and encashed it to maintain its political supremacy.   The saffron party has exploited in its favour the vacillating nature of the elected representatives elsewhere also.   The party managed a wholesale defection in Arunachal (2018), in the state of Karnataka (2018), in Madhya Pradesh (2020), in Gujarat (2018-19) and in West Bengal. Of late, Arvind Kejriwal’s Aam Admi Party (AAP), the ruling party in the state of Punjab, has been loudly accusing the BJP of trying to poach its elected legislators, offering crores of rupees for defection.

 Interestingly the BJP leaders are no more critics of meat-eating and they have stopped speaking against non-vegetarian food to impress Christian leaders of Goa, Nagaland, Meghalaya, Mizoram and Kerala.  There is a growing perception, whether the BJP government is able to make India Congress-free or not, it is definitely making Indian politics free of ethics.

*Dr. Vaidik is a widely travelled scholar-journalist. He has visited more than 80 countries on diplomatic and educational missions. Dr. Vaidik has won more than a dozen National and International awards for academic and journalistic excellence. He has been a member of several Advisory Committees of Government of India.

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