As parties welcome turncoats, leaders say it shows political system's collapse
Jaipur, Nov 19 (IANS) Turncoats in Rajasthan politics are the most discussed figures these days. The reason is simple.
Many candidates from different political parties have switched to other parties with altogether different ideologies after being denied tickets, leaving the dedicated party workers in a fix on several seats.
While the senior leaders are busy in photo ops with the turncoats, according them a warm welcome, some leaders have termed this party hopping as the collapse of the political system.
Both the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Congress have given tickets to the turncoats without bothering about political morality or public propriety.
The only criteria for getting a ticket is ‘Winnability’.
Girraj Singh Malinga, the sitting Congress MLA from Dholpur, recently joined the BJP and a few hours later he was announced as the BJP candidate for the Bari seat.
In March last year, Malinga allegedly assaulted Harshadhipati Valmiki, a Dalit engineer who suffered multiple fractures, including a broken femur, and is still unable to walk. He was reportedly brutally thrashed by Malinga and his cronies and has been in hospital since the last many months.
Following this incident, Malinga, a three-time MLA undefeated since 2008, was not made a Congress candidate. Waiting till the eleventh hour, Malinga finally switched to the BJP on the morning of November 5 and by evening he got the BJP ticket.
Last year, the BJP had called Malinga’s actions a reflection of "the jungle raj of Congress.”
However Malinga said this narrative was made up by the Congress high command. Meanwhile, Congress spokesperson Swarnim Chaturvedi said, “We have never ever enacted such a farce, criticising someone for six months for his criminal activities and then giving him a ticket. This is the double faced character of the BJP.”
Narayan Pancharia, heading the election campaign committee of the BJP, said that Malinga joined the party impressed by its service driven campaign.
“He never came on any terms and conditions and was willing to join the party to serve the people of the nation. We gave him a ticket as he expressed concern for service of the people.”
Meanwhile, the Congress fielded a BJP turncoat Prashant Singh Parmar against Malinga. Parmar had fought from the Bari seat on a BJP ticket in 2018 but switched sides and got the Congress ticket in a few hours.
In other words, the two major parties’ candidates for the Bari seat are now the same as in the 2018 elections – except that the Congress candidate then will now fight on a BJP ticket and the BJP candidate then is now the Congress nominee!
A veteran Congress worker on condition of anonymity said, “it is a sorry state of affairs that the ruling party has to bring in candidates from other parties even at a time when its own party workers worked hard for five years to save the government. Such acts should be stopped as they affect the confidence of the voters.”
A similar situation exists in another seat in the same district. Shobharani Kushwaha, who won the Dholpur seat on a BJP ticket in 2018, was expelled from the saffron party for voting for a Congress candidate in the Rajya Sabha elections last year. She joined the Congress on October 25 and is now the party’s candidate from the region.
Acting in the same manner, the BJP fielded Shivcharan Kushwaha who fought the last election as a Congress candidate but has now joined the saffron brigade! So Dholpur is yet another seat to see a repeat of the 2018 contest – except that the Congress-BJP protagonists have switched parties!
Congress spokesperson Swarnim Chaturvedi says, “Shobharani helped us in the Rajya Sabha elections and we have rewarded her.”
And BJP worker Nimisha Gaur says, “the BJP is a big family of disciplined soldiers. We welcome everyone who wants to join us. Anybody coming to us has to accept our ethos and we accept them wholeheartedly, those who have left this party and joined somewhere else have collapsed,” she says about Kushwaha being given a ticket and Shobharani leaving the party.
Another example of party-hopping comes from the Tijara seat in Alwar. While the BJP has fielded Lok Sabha MP Baba Balak Nath on this seat, the Congress has brought in Imran Khan who was declared as the official BSP candidate. Khan fought the 2019 Lok Sabha elections as a BSP candidate from Alwar but after switching sides, he replaced the sitting Congress candidate Sandeep Kumar.
The ruling Congress granted tickets to many other former BJP leaders including Vikas Chaudhary from Kishangarh who was denied a ticket by the saffron party, Surendra Goyal from Jaitaran, and Colonel Sona Ram in Barmer who again switched parties after being denied a ticket.
Vikas Chaudhary was the BJP candidate from Kishangarh in 2018 but announced his independent candidacy after the BJP gave the ticket to the Ajmer Lok Sabha MP. He joined the Congress at a Priyanka Gandhi rally on October 25 and days later got the Kishangarh ticket.
Similarly, the Congress has fielded former BJP MP Sonaram Choudhary from the Gudamalani seat in Barmer. "Sonaram returned to the Congress nine years after he switched to the BJP for the 2014 general elections. He got the Congress ticket within hours of rejoining the Congress,” said Chaturvedi.
Also, Surendra Goyal, a former minister in Vasundhara Raje's government, who was denied a BJP ticket in the 2018 polls, has become the Congress candidate from Jaitaran.
A senior Congress party leader told IANS, “Party hopping just doesn’t matter these days. What matters is how you can afford to go to the Vidhan Sabha. If your party doesn’t give you options, you have other options open for you. So think, pause and move forward.”
Varun Purohit, a Congress leader, said, “This system of turncoats accorded a warm welcome in other parties symbolises the collapse of the political system. Those leaving the party should be barred from contesting polls for six years. People are losing faith in democracy due to these turncoats who change their ideology frequently. They are not public representatives but are political party representatives, he added.