Antics in the political arena are consistent and often are a source of entertainment for the masses. But when these antics involve political poaching and purveyal of policies, then they are sure to invite a remark – from the Election Commissioner no less.
OP Rawat, an Election Commissioner, was recently in the public eye, following his bold remark on the gross mismanagement and a shameful prerogative in the Indian political sphere – where open defection and “policy capture” has set a new precedent.
Addressing a consultation on electoral and political reforms organized by the Association for Democratic Reforms, Rawat stated, “In this narrative, poaching of legislators is extolled as smart political management; strategic introduction of money for allurement, tough-minded use of state machinery for intimidation, etc., are all commended as resourcefulness.” His remarks came just days after Gujarat witnessed high political drama during the Rajya Sabha polls. The EC had invalidated votes of two Congress MLAs during the election process for violating secrecy norms.
This isn’t the first time where political flag-bearers of the country have displayed utter inconsistency and defected to the winning political party. This behavior is becoming more recurrent as BJP’s massive victories in different states and a polarizing presence at the centre is changing the status quo in Indian politics – which for most of India’s independent history, has been dominated by Congress.
Another instance of an open defection, or a resignation that spawned a separate alliance, was when Nitish Kumar parted ways with Lalu Prasad, deserting the Mahagathbandhan. This comical change brought about several instances of public hara-kiri from Congress.
These sort of changes have brought quite a few quips and episodes, where a political party organizes vacations and books villas at the outskirts of a city to prevent further defections.
That said, such major changes are bound to skew Indian politics and create a rather one-sided matchup, where the ruling party can arm twist any policy in the Parliament. Other than destroying political morality – which can be termed questionable – this trend challenges the essence of democracy.
The Election Commissioner’s concerns, albeit bold, reflect the effective by-passing of ethics, and undermine the Constitution’s basic tenets. And while the country has a strong government at present, it is necessary to maintain a healthy balance at the Center and the state levels to ensure a progressive run for the nation.