ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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The Banality of Defection Politics


In the recent years, political defection of different kinds and the resultant deviation from norms such as “loyalty is not saleable,” “pluralism is to be considered worthy of respect,” and “politics that endorses improvement in the spheres of non-coercion or increasing but reasonable degrees of freedom” have led to the melancholic expression, “we were wrong in supporting, prompting, and protecting these defectors.” Such expressions seem to have been particularly reverberating among the members of the Congress in Madhya Pradesh (MP), Karnataka, Goa, and, more recently, among the members of the Shiv Sena in Maharashtra. This raises the most fundamental questions—is the act of defection becoming a new norm for practising politics in India? Why are the norms listed above being regularly undermined? And by whom?

One could offer at least two illustrations which could help us in indicating that the act of defection seems to be acquiring to itself either systemic legitimacy or people’s approval. First, those political parties which seemingly are the beneficiary of defection would defend acts of defection on the grounds that it is vindicated by the fresh electoral mandate that the technically disqualified candidates would receive from the voters. Although the parties at the receiving end of defectors would seek an ethical exoneration, such claims, however, are far from being indubitable. Thus, it would not be unfair to raise the following question: Is the re-election of the defectors possible without the rigging of the voters’ minds? The answer is no. The voters—at least an effective number of them—allow their minds to be rigged by the decision to elect the defectors who jump from one party to another indiscriminately without any regard and respect for the mandate that they got from the voters with a different, perhaps even a progressive, orientation. The case of such a rigging of moral minds was evident in the case of MP and Karnataka where the defectors were elected to a different party with a different ideological orientation.

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Updated On : 6th Aug, 2022
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