Indian Politics of Defection: An Uninteresting Variant Of Dissidence

Defections from various political parties and the resulting deviation from norms such as “loyalty is not sellable,” “pluralism is to be considered worthy of respect,” and “politics that endorses improvement in the spheres of non-coercion or increasing but reasonable degrees of freedom” have recently led to the melancholy expression, “we were wrong in supporting, promoting, and protecting these defectors.” Congress MPs in Madhya Pradesh (MP) and Karnataka as well as the Shiv Sena in Goa and, more lately, Maharashtra are heard using these kinds of rhetoric. Is the act of defection becoming the new standard for doing politics in India? This raises the most basic problems. What is the reason for the violations of the above-mentioned norms? And who is responsible for this?

The act of defecting seems to be gaining systemic legitimacy or the acceptance of the general public, as at least two examples demonstrate. That political parties that stand to gain from defection will justify it by pointing to the new electoral mandate technically disqualified candidates would obtain from the electorate as evidence. Despite the fact that the parties on the receiving end of defectors would want an ethical exoneration, such assertions are not indubitable. As a result, it’s legitimate to ask: Can the defectors be re-elected without manipulating the minds of the voters? No, this is not true.

Electing defectors who switch from one party to another without regard or respect for the mandate they received from people with a different, possibly even progressive, attitude rigs the minds of the voters—at least an effective percentage of them. MP and Karnataka were two examples of gaming of moral minds where the defectors were elected to a different party with an ideologically different bent.

It follows from the previous instance that those voters who re-elect such defectors to representative institutions of power benefit from legitimacy since they have lost their ability even to repent for making the incorrect choices they have made in re-electing such defectors. They don’t appear to take advantage of the chance that is both enabling and ennobling when it comes to correcting a mistake in voting. Voters have a tendency to make the same errors again. In light of this, it’s worth mentioning the Shiv Sena, which seems to be certain that its supporters won’t make this error.

Shiv Sena supporters are predicted to oppose defectors in the next election on moral grounds, which suggests that individuals who placed their hard-earned virtue of loyalty on the market will be penalised for the violation of trust. For those concerned about the future of India’s plurality, some may argue that the Shiv Sena-led Maha Vikas Aghadi government’s new candidates have every incentive to continue with the party’s flexible stances as the government’s key partner in favour of diversity.

Not to say that the lack of the ability to repent and correct certain voters is the only cause of the banality of politics, but this does not mean that they are the only ones to blame. When it comes to nominating or supporting Scheduled Castes (SCs) for reserved seats, political parties, in general, appear to have chosen a basic approach. For the most part, it is noticed that major parties do not employ a rigid standard—or even an objective calculation—when supporting or nominating candidates who represent the reserved districts.

The major parties’ lack of interest in selecting candidates for the SC is mirrored by the SC representatives’ apathy—in some instances, an outright callousness—when it comes to the critical issue of the SC as a whole. Common SCs that have been given political representation also contribute to the banality of representation since they also lack the ability to lament and correct the error that they made in selecting and later on permitting such SC representatives.

Are there ways to avoid the banality of politics? As long as the common moral good is being protected, the collective yet watchful activities of prodding politicians as well as the general public to defend the dignity of persons and the decency of public institutions are appropriate. As a result, anyone contemplating a break from the party must first determine if their decision to do so is motivated by a desire to create and grow non-coercive social spheres.