With the run up to the 2019 general election, India prepares itself to exercise its franchise in 7 phases, similarly with just a few weeks left for the general elections, political parties have also had to up the ante. Discussions about elections, policy, governance, past performance of the government and others have taken over the prime time slots of the Indian media together with political pundits, who are coming out with their analysis and predictions. Trying to gauge the mood of the nation, Political parties have also shifted gears to tackle the dynamic political environment arising just before the elections. Forging new alliances, clear stand on critical issues, cadre mobilization has taken the top agenda spot in political parties.
In the tremendously strategic landscape of Indian Politics , the BJP with its organizational strategies has came out a clear victor, not only in terms robust policy stances but specifically in attracting more leaders from opposition parties to join the BJP. The last few weeks have seen huge developments in this respect, with opposition leaders switching sides over to the BJP, Congress and TMC came out as the biggest losers, indicating the strategic thinking on the part of the BJP to target its main opposition which includes Congress and TMC.
In Gujarat, four Congress legislators Jawahar Chavda, Parshottam Sabariya, Vallabh Dharaviya and Ashaben Patel have jumped ship from the congress to the BJP. This comes as a huge setback for the Gujarat Congress, just before the polls. A senior BJP leader said, “The BJP does not want to take any chance in these crucial polls and it plans to retain all the 26 Lok Sabha seats which it had won in 2014 general elections. Another math is that if BJP loses some seats in UP and other states, its tally should not be reduced in Modi and Amit Shah’s home turf,’’ this clearly indicates the strong stance of the BJP for winning the elections.
Congress had earlier felt the pinch in Assam, when Assam PCC General Secretary Ankur Dutta joined the BJP. ‘Since people want poriborton, I joined the BJP. I am happy with the functioning of the BJP governments at the Centre and Dispur and am more happy because they are giving due importance to sport. I have not joined for any position. I will contribute to the party as a simple member,” Dutta said.
The next set of tremors were felt by the TMC when Anupam Hazra joined the BJP in the presence of the party General Secretary and West Bengal in-charge Kailash Vijayvargiya and senior leader Mukul Roy. Anupam Hazra was elected to the Bolpur constituency in the 2014 general elections. With Hazra, Congress MLA Dulal Chandra Bar and CPM MLA Khagen Murmu also joined BJP. Taking a dig at Mamta Banerjee, Roy said that there is a wave against her in the state and many more leaders can be expected to join the BJP. He also said there is a complete breakdown in the state and leaders are leaving TMC.
BJP taking a proactive stance has also attracted senior Congress leaders from Maharashtra, Sujay Vikhe Patil, son of senior Congress leader and the Leader of Opposition in the Maharashtra Assembly Radhakrishna Vikhe Patil has also joined the BJP in presence of Maharashtra CM Devendra Fadnavis.
BJP leader Girish Mahajan who was present at the joining of Sujay Patil said “Not only him, but several others also are in touch with us. You will come to know about them shortly,”
Furthermore to reinforce Girish Mahajan’s claim, Kalidas Kolambkar, a senior Congress leader from Maharashtra and seven times MLA is also set to join the BJP. Kalidas Kolambkar also replaced the portrait outside his office with a portrait of the Maharashtra CM Devendra Fadnavis, on being asked about the change of portrait he asked, “After Devendra Fadnavis took over as Chief Minister, I told him about the work needed to be done in my area and he completed those works. Then, whose photo should I put? Those who work or those who don’t,” Kalidas Kolambkar is a legislator from Wadala-Naigaon constituency.
According to reports the defections are not only limited to top leaders, but after seeing different senior leaders joining the lotus train, ground level party workers are also shifting their allegiance to the BJP. Unsurprisingly, trends indicate that the Congress and TMC will be major losers, if they are unable to retain their leaders. BJP with its strategic methodology has been successful in attracting critical leaders from the opposition parties.
Although defections are sure to degrade the opposition party’s credibility, the timing of the defections is a bigger concern for TMC and Congress. Aimed at creating chaos, just weeks before the polls, defections by senior leaders is not going down well with the ground cadre. Demotivated by senior leaders jumping ship, questions are being asked about effective campaigning support by party cadres. Party cadres which play an important role in mobilizing voters are feeling apathetic and uninvolved, which can spell horrors for fruitful electoral campaigning .
Top leaders are also not untouched by the wave of defections, in essence BJP has been successful in creating a sense of unease in the leadership and the ground cadre of Congress and TMC. This unease among party workers if not tendered with utmost urgency might lead to a disastrous electoral campaign and ultimately to electoral losses. West Bengal where BJP is expected to make huge political gains these defections come at a time when the TMC is under pressure over the law and order situation in the state. With parties going into the damage control mode so they mitigate the effects of defections, BJP’s strong focus on governance will pay off well in the elections. BJP emerging as the biggest beneficiary of these strategic defections and it will surely put to good use the added leadership and cadre base.
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