A FEW Congress MLAs in the state have expressed their inclination, albeit privately so far, to switch over to the BJP, the leading party of the ruling coalition.
They are working overtime to mobilise at least six of the nine Congress MLAs in the House to make the switchover so that they do not attract the penalty of the anti-defection law. Although the BJP has not let known its view on the move, the initiative takers among Congress MLAs are saying the leading party is open to the idea.
The move shows that defection, whatever name you give to it, remains an un-eradicated epidemic in Goa. MLAs, who could be singing praises of their supreme leaders one day, would start singing praises of the supreme leaders of their new party once they move into it. The Congress party in Goa has accommodated a significant number of turncoats over the years; and the BJP has a few too. Ideology has lost sanctity. Speeches made in the past against the leaders of the party they are joining as defectors appear to have no meaning. A party that was bad and corrupt yesterday becomes a temple of virtues today to the defector. The people and the media are left wondering why they took their charges against the party across the line seriously. Charges and counter-charges have no substance. A corrupt politician ceases to be a corrupt politician in the receiving party’s eye. A corrupt party ceases to be a corrupt party in the defector’s perception.
People have to be realistic. The media has to be realistic. These men in Goa who have made politics their career do not have any principles to abide by. They are all for power. To be in politics has no meaning if you do not have power. Politicians say it openly. You should not be surprised if the Congress MLAs inclined to join the BJP start saying that they are doing it because they want development of their constituency and development of the constituency cannot take place unless they have power. This is a brazen and shameless negation of the basic principles of democracy, whereby the party or alliance winning the larger number of seats forms government and the one winning less sits in the opposition. The gain of a majority shows the collective majority will. The party or alliance in opposition represents the collective minority will. That means that at that juncture of history a larger number of people wanted a particular party or alliance to run the government. The smaller number of people, who wanted another party or alliance to run the government but failed because their number was smaller, has to accept their defeat. Their representatives too must accept defeat and work for the next five years to build a larger support for their party and party’s ideas and test the success of their efforts at the next elections.
Being in opposition should not be made to look like a curse. Democracy needs a strong and powerful opposition. During the long rule of the Congress at the Centre, beginning from Nehru through Shastri to Indira, the opposition parties did not have large numbers but they made a strong and powerful opposition. The Congress MLAs should not think they have not won a mandate: they have won a mandate of opposition. They should take it upon themselves to challenge the ideas of the new government that come in the form of legislative or administrative proposals, if they think they are wrong, and expose the misdeeds of the government in decision making if they see any misdeeds. They must work like an effective deterrent to bad lawmaking and bad decision making.
If the majority of the nine Congress MLAs join the BJP, the opposition will virtually cease to exist. One or two or three members of the opposition, no matter how experienced, articulate and respected, cannot be an effective deterrent to bad governance.
Perhaps it is not in the interest of the BJP either. On the face of it, it may look extremely tempting for the BJP to accept the majority of opposition party MLAs into its fold on the ground that it would debilitate the Congress so much it won’t be able to stand up on its feet. That way the BJP could be assured of a second term, if not more.
But the BJP be better warned of its implications. First of all, the majority of electorate that has chosen the BJP to run government will be highly displeased. They voted out the Congress because of the party’s bad and corrupt governance. Although charges against none of them will ever be brought up against them or proven if brought up, people had the sense of what some of Congress ministers and MLAs were doing by way of favours, illicit gains and nepotism. If the BJP admits the major group of Congress MLAs, the lines between the two parties will blur. And that would dent the BJP image, so soon after it won popular mandate against power, lust and corruption of Congress. And the problems for the BJP will get more compounded in days to come, for the defectors are not intending to join the BJP as though it were the Ganga where they must cleanse themselves of their sins. They are coming to be in power again, if not in ministry, in other positions of status, money dispensing authority and power. Or they will have decisions of their interest made through the government just by virtue of being party MLAs.