Defection business: On party-hopping as a feature of Indian politics

Party-hopping seems set to stay as parties choose candidates with resources

The by-product of this system is the presence of careerist politicians who are in it more for transactional purposes than principled or ideological reasons. A reason why the Congress has lost out to the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in pre-eminence nationally is because of large-scale defections to the BJP, which has managed to articulate a clear ideological stance of right-wing conservatism through its leadership while providing a platform for those seeking to use the electoral system for patronage. As the Congress tries to rejuvenate itself, the party has sought to distinguish itself from the BJP not just in terms of what it represents in secular terms but also as a vehicle of welfare through electoral guarantees. This has allowed itself to play host to last-minute defectors from the BJP and regional parties in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Telangana, but this also throws up a challenge in retaining these malleable legislators. Alas, defections will remain a feature of Indian politics unless voters punish the defectors for repeated party-hopping and see no longer term interest in choosing a representative with tenuous ideological affiliation.