ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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The Logic of Defection

Defection may serve individual interests, but it undercuts the moral significance of democratic consciousness.


Resignations by 15 members of the legislative assembly (MLA) from Congress and Janata Dal (Secular) have created a political crisis for the coalition government in Karnataka. It is widely alleged that the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is behind this move as it seeks to dislodge the coalition government and capture power in the state. However, seen in the context of political developments in recent times, the unfolding crisis in Karnataka becomes a symptom of an even graver moral crisis before democracy.

Ever since the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance returned to form the government at the centre, its singular zeal to consolidate and concentrate power has got a renewed impetus. This is evident in its attempt to engineer defections at the level of states as well as among the members of the Rajya Sabha. In its attempts at manufacturing majorities, the ruling party has been subverting the popular electoral mandate. One may argue that this is not strictly a new phenomenon, and surely the BJP cannot be singularly targeted for indulging in such practices. However, at the instrumental level, such defections would directly or indirectly assist the ruling party in its goal of acquiring simple majority in the Rajya Sabha, to pursue its legislative agenda without any “hindrance’’ of scrutiny and opposition. At a deeper level it contributes to the larger goal of achieving an opposition-mukt polity. The technique of forcing the members of opposition into submission (and eventual defection) through various mechanisms of power has been mastered by the ruling party. The question, however, is: Why have the opposition forces not been able to resist these attempts and seem to be folding over? Why does their critique of the ruling party’s ways not seem to be getting traction among people?

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Updated On : 23rd Jul, 2019
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