“One of the reasons people hate politics is that truth is rarely a politician’s objective. Election and power are,” American columnist Cal Thomas had once said. Be it in any part of the world, the politics of power rings the same bell everywhere.
Political turncoats are not a new norm but as and when elections approach, the intensity of those hopping party increases too. Politicians change ‘sides’, leave their past behind, forget all the ill-mouthed speeches they gave against a certain party before joining hands with them. They join a particular party based on what is offered to them instead of what is thinking about the political ideology of a party. Is a party’s political ideology just framed to write in the campaign agenda that is made to woo the voters?
Designations, seats of one’s choice, political ambitions are much more important for individual leaders. How easy is it for them to face the same section of people and appeal for votes for a particular party which they ‘hated’ and ‘criticised’ till a day before?
With elections fast approaching, politicians are changing goalposts. These shifts clearly reveal that a party’s principles are of least importance to them. It is a career after all, and it is about survival. Instead of being relegated to one corner, they prefer to take up the offer that is more lucrative, just like people switch jobs.
But then how can we trust them based on the ideals they talk about when it is well known that political opportunism is all that most of these politicians are looking for.
These are not all, but some of the biggest names of turncoats in the recent past:
Navjot Singh Sidhu: He joined Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in 2004 when he got elected to the Lok Sabha from Amritsar. Over 12 years later, he ‘realised’ that he was always a Congressman. He joined the Congress on January 15 claiming that this was his ‘ghar wapasi’. So what about those 12 years with the BJP? You campaigned for the BJP and convinced people to vote for the party and its ideology. But did you even for once, believe in the ideology that you asked people to believe in?
Rita Bahuguna Joshi: In 2011, she called Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi the most trusted leader of India. “Rahul Gandhi has become the favourite leader of not only Uttar Pradesh but also of India,” she had said. In 2016, she launched one of her scathiest attacks on the same Rahul Gandhi and said that his leadership was acceptable to none. Saying those words she joined the BJP in October 2016. Joshi was not just a party member, she also served as the Congress’ UP chief and is the daughter of Hemwati Nandan Bahuguna, one of the tallest leaders of the party and a former chief minister.
ND Tiwari: 91-year-old ND Tiwari was a long time Congress loyalist, only before he joined the BJP on January 18, 2017. A three-time CM of Uttar Pradesh, a cabinet minister in former PM Rajiv Gandhi switched sides, and that too along with his son Rohit Shekhar. His induction into the party is being seen as a step to garner the support of the Brahmins in Uttarakhand. The party has also named 15 other people who recently switched sides, as candidates for the upcoming elections.
Beni Prasad Verma: Prominent Kurmi leader Beni Prasad Verma joined the Samajwadi Party back after a hiatus of nine years. Verma held the post of Union steel minister in the UPA government but left Congress saying he was feeling “suffocated” since 2014. Verma moving away from the party was seen as a huge loss to the Congress as the Kurmis are the second largest OBC group in Uttar Pradesh. People often vote on the basis of leaders instead of choosing the party so it is believed that he might play a role in a decrease in the Congress’ vote share.
Kumar Vishwas: There were reports that Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader Kumar Vishwas may join the BJP to contest the UP elections from Sahibabad. However, Vishwas mocked the reports and denied the rumuors. It was being said that the satirist-politician is in talks with the BJP and may join it ahead of the upcoming polls.
Mahatma Gandhi had called politics without principles as a danger to human virtues. He had said, “If there is no principle, there is no true north, nothing you can depend upon. The focus on the personality ethic is the instant creation of an image that sells well in the social and economic marketplace… But if you get a sick social will behind the political will that is independent of principle, you could have a very sick organization or society with distorted values.”
Political leaders changing parties is not just unfortunate but dangerous to democracy too as their decisions are often a result of their greed to get tickets at the cost of political values. Can anything be done to maintain those principals?