Fearing a rerun of what has happened in Madhya Pradesh, the Congress has shifted 20 MLAs out of Gujarat to Jaipur, to avoid defection or cross-voting, ahead of the Rajya Sabha polls to be held on March 26th. Former Congress MP Jyotiraditya Scindia’s jump to BJP has come as a major blow to the party, which is already reeling under the lack of a competent authority. With Scindia’s defection, the Kamal Nath government is likely to collapse, paving the way for three-time Chief Minister from BJP, Shivraj Singh Chauhan’s return. The Governor has demanded a floor test for the Kamal Nath-led government after 22 MLAs tendered their resignations. Scindia, who was with the Congress for 18 years, becomes the fifth member of his family to join BJP.
Defection is nothing new in Indian politics. Gaya Lal’s famous decamping from Congress to the Janata Party (JP), back to the Congress and then to the JP again, all within a fortnight in 1967, led to the creation of the expression
Aaya Ram Gaya Ram. Over the years, several parties continued horse-trading in a bid to capture power, which ultimately led to the passing of the anti-defection law by the Parliament in 1985. Contained in the 10th schedule of the Constitution, the law was passed to curb political defections by legislators and to set grounds on which a member of the legislature can be disqualified.
The law has not curbed defection, and parties have indulged in horsetrading to come to power. We take a look at 10 instances where politicians have defected and changed the political scenario in their respective states:
The erstwhile Rajmata of Gwalior, Vijay Raje Scindia was the first member of the Scindia family to defect from Congress. Scindia entered politics in 1957, winning the Gun Lok Sabha seat in Madhya Pradesh. In 1967, she quit the Congress party and won the Guna seat on a Swatantra Party ticket. Her exit from Congress, which was reportedly due to Chief Minister DP Mishra’s criticism of the royal family, led the Mishra Government in Madhya Pradesh to collapse. Scindia took 35 MLAs away from the Congress, joined hands with Bharatiya Jan Sangh the erstwhile political arm of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), resigned from Lok Sabha and entered state politics. She went on to become one of the top leaders of the BJP and led the party’s MP unit. By India Post, Government of India -  , GODL-India, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=74528620 Image credit: A protégé of Yashwantrao Chavan, Sharad Pawar was nominated as a candidate from the Baramati constituency in 1967 on a Congress ticket. He won the elections and in 1969, joined the Congress (R) faction, led by Indira Gandhi, of which Chavan was a part. Pawar left the Congress R in 1978 to form a coalition with the Janata Party and Peasants Working Party, in the process becoming the youngest Chief Minister at the age of 38. The Government was dismissed in 1980 when Gandhi returned to power. Pawar rejoined Congress during Rajiv Gandhi’s time in 1987, in a bid to ‘save the Congress Culture in Maharashtra’. Pawar continued with the party till 1999, when he, along with politicians P.A Sangma and Tariq Anwar demanded that an Indian born become the Prime Ministerial candidate and not the Italian born Sonia Gandhi. Pawar subsequently broke away from Congress and formed the Nationalist Congress Party, which continues to be an ally of the Congress Party. By Ministery of Agriculture and Food Processing, India - Image credit: http://pibphoto.nic.in/photo//2012/Jul/l2012073141564.jpg, GODL-India, Link The former footballer and journalist, who was the Minister of Irrigation & Flood Control and Youth Affairs & Sports under the Congress government, quit the Manipur Legislative Assembly and the Manipur Pradesh Congress Committee in 2015, in protest against the then CM Okram Ibobo Singh, with whom his relationship soured after he was excluded from the cabinet. Singh joined BJP on October 17, 2016, and became the Spokesperson and Co-convener of the Election Management Committee of BJP Manipur Pradesh. In March 2017, Singh was elected as the leader of the BJP Legislative Party in Manipur. He went on to head the state’s first BJP-led government after he won a floor test in the assembly by voice vote. By Vice President's Secretariat (GODL-India), GODL-India, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=81024227 Image credit: The former tennis player, retired IPS officer and politician started her political career when she joined India Against Corruption movement led by social activist Anna Hazare in 2011. She parted ways with the Movement after Arvind Kejriwal faction went on to form the Aam Aadmi Party. During the 2014 general elections, Bedi openly supported Narendra Modi, who was the then prime ministerial candidate from BJP. Bedi, who moved to BJP in 2015, was BJP’s candidate during the Delhi elections and was defeated by AAP candidate SK Bagga. She is the current Lieutenant Governor of Puducherry. By Prabu kanna - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=82932394 Image credit: Jyotiraditya Scindia’s father, the late Madhavrao Scindia started his political innings as an MP of the Jana Sangh from Guna in 1971, at the age of 26. During the emergency in 1975, he reportedly went to England as he did not want to be imprisoned. Scindia subsequently resigned from the Jana Sangh and returned to India. After winning elections in 1977 as an independent, Scindia moved to Congress in 1980, despite resistance from his family, and won from Guna for the third time. He continued to stand for elections from either Guna or Gwalior, winning each time, hence, widening the ideological differences between him and his mother, Vijay Raje Scindia. However, in 1996, Scindia rebelled against the Congress, after Arjun Singh the then Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh who was forced to resign due to charges that a lottery scheme his son ran violated the law, compelled Rajiv Gandhi to not take him as the CM. He left the party and formed the Madhya Pardesh Vikas Congress. It became a part of the 13-party United Front Government that formed two governments in 1996 and 1998, defeating Congress candidates in the elections. Scindia returned to Congress in 1998, where he remained and worked as a close confidante of Sonia Gandhi until his untimely death in an air crash in 2001. 2019 saw Karnataka fall into a political quagmire as several members of the Karnataka Legislative Assembly submitted their resignations to the speaker, resulting in the fall of the UPA government in the state. A total of 13 members from the Congress resigned from the party. They were joined by three MLAs from JDS and one from Karnataka Pragnyavantha Janatha Party (KPJP). The coalition government tried to get the MLAs to rescind on the resignations, by offering them cabinet positions, and also requested the speaker to disqualify those who had resigned under the anti-defection law, but to no avail. A number of the members fled to Mumbai. This pushed the HD Kumaraswamy-led state government to a minority. Subsequently, Kumaraswamy resigned from the CM's post after he lost the majority in the trust vote, getting 99 votes as compared to BJP’s 105 votes. BJP was then invited to form the government as the single largest party, and B.S Yeddyurappa became the CM. Image credit: Twitter/DD Chandana The 2017 Goa elections saw a hung assembly as no one was able to reach the magic figure of 21 required to form the government. Congress had 17 seats after the elections, while BJP had 13. However, despite not getting a majority, the BJP came to power and managed to reach the required numbers, after it won the support of Vijai Sardesai and two other party MLAs of the Goa Forward Party, which had been campaigning alongside the Congress party during the elections. The Goa Forward Party agreed to support it on the condition that Manohar Parrikar would return to Goa as the Chief Minister. The BJP Government was invited to form the government after it had enough numbers with the support of the BJP-allied Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party (MGP) and the GFP. Joel's Goa Pics / CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0) Image credit: The former CM of Bihar has made a couple of political jumps. Jitan Ram Manjhi entered politics in 1980 on a Congress ticket and became a Minister in the Chandrashekar Singh-led government in Bihar. In 1990, he lost an election, after which he switched sides to the Janata Dal (JD). Manjhi moved to the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) after JD split in 1996 and Laloo Prasad Yadav formed his party. During the October 2005 elections, RJD lost to the BJP-Janata Dal (United) NDA coalition, after which Manjhi switched loyalties back to the JDU. In 2015, a political crisis erupted in Bihar when, after the poor performance during the 2014 general elections, Nitish Kumar resigned from the post of CM, and Manjhi, who was his confidant, took over as the CM. Manjhi ’s tenure was rife with controversies and, ten months later the party asked him to resign and make way for Kumar to return as CM. Manjhi refused and was expelled from the party. The Governor then asked Manjhi to seek a vote of confidence. However, despite BJP announcing that it would support Manjhi, was short of the numbers. Manjhi resigned the day of the vote, and Kumar returned as CM. Manjhi then formed the Hindustani Awam Morcha (Secular) on 8 May 2015, along with 18 others. By Ministry of Power, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=86332993 Image credit: October, last year saw political drama in Maharashtra after the state election results were declared. Though voters had given BJP and Shiv Sena combine a clear mandate to form Government, the state found itself in a political mess after the alliance failed to come forward to stake claim. As Maharashtra descended into further chaos and President’s rule was imposed, NCP leader Ajit Pawar jumped the wagon, joined hands with BJP and was appointed as Deputy Chief Minister, while Devendra Fadnavis returned for a second innings as CM. However, to avoid anti-defection laws, Pawar had to bring 36 MLAs from the NCP. Pawar resigned from his post after he reportedly told Fadnavis that he could not bring the required numbers. Fadnavis also resigned, paving way for the Uddhav Thackeray led Maharashtra Vikas Aghadi government. Pawar retained his deputy CM title under the MVA government as well. This raised suspicions that he had been a trojan horse, while his move was also compared with that of his uncle Sharad Pawar's switch to the Janata Party many decades ago. By YASHZ390 - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=84271080 Image credit: A former close aide of Arvind Kejriwal and one of the founding members of the Aam Aadmi Party, Yogendra Yadav was voted out of AAP’s Political Affairs Committee and expelled from the Party’s National Executive for alleged anti-party activities in 2015. Yadav said that he had been targeted for questioning Kejriwal’s ‘authoritarian ways, accusing him of stifling power and using unfair means to capture power. Yadav then went on to form the Swaraj Abhiyan with fellow former AAP member Prashant Bhushan, sociologist Anand Kumar and Professor Ajit Jha. The dissent and public washing of the party’s problems came as a major embarrassment to the AAP government which had just won the Delhi elections. Image credit: Twitter/NDTV