Gujarat Congress leaders join BJP: Many politicians have moved to the saffron party since 2014

With the exception of Navjot Singh Sidhu, many other politicians seem to be siding with the dominant political tide in the country. Since 2014, a number of leaders have decided to join the BJP and leave their own parties, which are at the losing side of the political battle.

The 'Modi wave' which was thought to have captured most Indians since the 2014 general election, has also arrested the attention of other parties' MLAs. They seem to want to share a slice of the winning pie by associating with the saffron party's mega plan of coming to power across the country.

However, not all defectors have helped the BJP in bringing an electoral windfall. Nevertheless, they have all added to the demoralisation in their respective parties. It is seen as a symbolic defeat of others and a major (again, symbolic) victory by the BJP.

The recent incident in a spree of defections to the BJP were three Congress MLAs in Gujarat. On Thursday, Congress chief whip and MLA from Siddhpur Balwantsinh Rajput, Tejashree Patel from Viramgam, and Vijapur legislator PI Patel submitted their resignations.

Within minutes of their joining the BJP, Rajput was named the saffron party's third Rajya Sabha candidate. BJP chief Amit Shah and Union minister Smriti Irani are the other two candidates fielded by the party.

While it is yet to be seen if Rajput wins the Rajya Sabha seat for the BJP, the switch has certainly sent Congress into flutters. The petrified Congress has flown over 40 of its MLAs to Bengaluru to prevent them from being "poached" by the BJP.

 Gujarat Congress leaders join BJP: Many politicians have moved to the saffron party since 2014

File image of Nitish Kumar. PTI

Just days before this, Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar abandoned the Grand Alliance, which he had formed to defeat the "communal" BJP, to join the saffron party yet again.

It could have been because of a fear of being left out with the rising popularity of the BJP or differences with alliance partner and RJD chief Lalu Prasad Yadav, or both. However, with Nitish embracing the NDA again, the BJP has another state in its kitty and Nitish got to keep his post of the chief minister of Bihar.

The other high-profile defection, which warranted a press conference, was that of former Uttar Pradesh Congress chief Rita Bahuguna Joshi.

Months before the Uttar Pradesh Assembly election, Joshi, who after unsuccessfully contesting parliamentary elections twice managed to win only an MLA seat from Lucknow cantonment, announced her decision to join the BJP in a press conference with BJP chief Amit Shah.

While her exit from the Congress wasn’t thought to have either gained the BJP significantly or hurt the already low prospects of the Congress, it was only a disadvantage to the Grand Old Party on a psychological level, according to The Wire.

However by siding with the BJP, Joshi outdid herself in the 2017 Assembly election and defeated Samajwadi Party's Aparna Yadav. She is now a minister in Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath’s cabinet.

Before Joshi, former Bahujan Samajwadi Party leader Swami Prasad Maurya had also joined the BJP in Uttar Pradesh. Maurya, Leader of Opposition in the state Assembly before he quit the BSP, joined the BJP in the presence of party president Amit Shah at the BJP headquarters. He even won the Padrauna seat with 93,649 votes. After him, Brajesh Pathak, a senior BSP leader and a prominent Brahmin face in the party also decided to join the BJP.

File image of SM Krishna. PTI

File image of SM Krishna. PTI

After winning Uttar Pradesh, the BJP started looking south, where its presence is still scant. In preparation for Karnataka polls, the BJP inducted former Karnataka chief minister SM Krishna in March 2017.

Of all the southern states, the BJP is closest to power in Karnataka. It is now trying to improve its strength with the induction of leaders from other parties, according to NDTV.

The departure of a leader as experienced as Krishna would have also wreaked damage on the Congress, but in a subtle psychological way rather than in direct electoral terms. The BJP is expected to benefit from Krishna's knowledge of the Congress.

After Krishna, former MP M Shivanna also decided to quit Congress and join the BJP. Shivanna decided to join the BJP, along with his supporters, citing unhappiness with the Congress leadership.

While, BJP’s model of poaching leaders of other parties has worked well for Uttar Pradesh, it possibly started with Assam.

Former health and education minister and a close confidant of former chief minister Tarun gogoi, Himanta Biswa Sarma joined the BJP in 2015. Sarma’s joining the BJP sent shivers through the rank and file of the ruling Congress party.

Sarma became the convener of BJP’s Election Management Committee for the 2016 Assembly elections in Assam. He is the face of the party for the entire North East and the convener of the North East Democratic Alliance, the BJP-led alliance of non-Congress parties of the North East. He is also known as the party's chief Machiavelli there.

Another prominent entrant has been V Srinivasa Prasad, a Dalit leader from Mysuru, who was dumped by Siddaramaiah from his ministry. This move was also seen as a jolt to the ruling Congress in the state.

Prasad was BJP’s candidate for the Nanjangud by polls. However, after losing the election, he announced his retirement from electoral politics.

The BJP also came to power earlier this year without contesting any election after chief minister Pema Khandu decided to switch loyalties. He shifted to the BJP with 33 legislators. It was an easy win for the BJP, who had supported Khandu after the Peoples’ Party of Arunachal temporarily suspended him, his deputy Chowna Mein, and five MLAs for alleged anti-party activities.

Apart from these legislators, who have benefitted the saffron party in one way or the other, there are reports of others joining the BJP soon.

There are speculations that Congressman Narayan Rane may cross over to the BJP after he met Maharashtra Tourism Minister and BJP MLA Jaykumar Rawal.

While Shankersinh Vaghela announced his decision to quit the Congress, he also announced that he doesn’t plan on joining any other political party. However, there are speculations that Amit Shah was the mastermind behind his grand exit.

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Updated Date: Jul 29, 2017 12:42:56 IST