OPINION
SCINDIA HOLDS KAMAL
Politics makes strange bedfellows
- Markandey Katju
Politics makes strange bedfellows




"Jeevan ka safar hai toolaani
  Yaan ikraani hai naadaani
  Jo shahsawaar maahir hain
  Woh raah badalte rehte hain"

It means:

 "Life’s journey is long
  To be consistent in it is a sign of immaturity
  The expert horse riders
  Keep changing their paths"

A huge political storm has been created in India by the defection of the Madhya Pradesh Congress leader Jyotiraditya Scindia from the Congress party with about 22 MLAs who are all set to join the Bhartiya Janta Party (BJP).

In the 230 seat MP Legislature, in the 2018 state elections the Congress won 114 seats, BJP won 109, BSP got 2, Samajwadi Party got 1 and there were 4 independents.
 
With these defections the Congress party in the state has been reduced to a minority in the state legislature, and consequently the Congress Govt is bound to fall. In all probability a deal was worked out in advance between Scindia and the BJP leaders that Scindia will become the next Chief Minister of MP.

Scindia was in Congress for 18 years, and his father before him. But his crossing over to the BJP is nothing new in Indian politics, which is bereft of any ethics or principles (see my article ‘After A Game of Musical Chairs: Many-Headed Hydra in Maharashtra').

Indian politicians remind us of the French politician cum diplomat Charles Maurice de Talleyrand-Périgord (1758-1834), who was an expert in changing his political allegiances at the nick of time,  on getting a sniff of the changing political wind, always being on the winning side. Although initially he worked for King Louis 16th, he abandoned Louis and went over to the French Revolution when it  broke out in 1789. When the Revolution ended he switched his loyalty to Napoleon. When the  latter’s reign ended at Waterloo in 1815 he quickly transferred his allegiance to King Louis 18th. And when Bourbon rule collapsed in 1830 he went over to Louis Phillipe.

The same philosophy is being followed by the Indian political leaders— our ‘Bharat Bhagya Vidhaatas’. Consider these examples :

(1) Charan Singh, the UP politician, who though originally a Congressman, changed political allegiances so often that he became known as ‘Chair Singh’

Charan Singh with HN Bahuguna 

(2) HN Bahuguna, who left Congress in 1977 and formed the CFD along with Jagjiwan Ram (who also defected from Congress after the Emergency) and his son Vijay and daughter Rita who have joined the BJP. HN Bahuguna became a Minister in the Janta Dal Govt, and Rita in the UP Govt of the BJP (and later a BJP MP).

(3) VP Singh who defected from the Congress in 1989 and formed the Janta Dal and formed the National Front to become the Prime Minister.

(4) Arun Nehru, who was brought into Congress by Indira Gandhi, but after her death left Congress and joined Janta Dal, and later the BJP.

(5) Arif Mohammed Khan (presently Governor of Kerala), who was originally in Congress but later joined the Janta Dal, then BSP, and finally (in 2004) the BJP.

(6) Jayaprada, who has been in Telgu Desam Party, Samajwadi Party, Rashtriya Lok Dal and finally the Bhartiya Janta Party.

(7) MJ Akbar, who was at one time a Congress MP, spokesman for Rajiv Gandhi, and adviser to the Ministry of Human Resources in the Congress Govt. Later, sniffing the change in the political wind he did a somersault, abandoned secularism (of which he once professed to be a staunch advocate), and joined the BJP, becoming a Rajya Sabha MP and Minister only to be deprived of this post when involved in a sex scandal.
 
(8) Nitish Kumar, presently Chief Minister of Bihar, who like a trapeze artist and acrobat keeps somersaulting between Lalu Yadav’s RLD and the BJP, sniffing the change in the political wind.

(9) Mamata Banerji, who defected from the Congress and formed the Trinamool Congress to become the Chief Minister of West Bengal.

(10) Kashmiri leaders Farooq Abdullah, Mehbooba Mufti etc, who though professing secularism joined hands with the BJP, which is known to be communal, to share power.

(11) Bhajan Lal, who to retain his Chief Ministership, defected in 1980 along with most Janta Party MLAs in Haryana and joined the Congress, saying "In politics one should either take sanyas, or take the right decision at the right time".

Talleyrand’s spirit would be delighted to see his tribe flourishing in India!
 

Justice Markandey Katju is former Judge, Supreme Court of India and former Chairman, Press Council of India.

 
 

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