The 'Aya Rams' and 'Gaya Rams' of 2014

On a wintry October day in 1967, Gaya Lal, a member of the Haryana Legislature from Hassanpur decided to quit the Congress and join the United Front government of Chief Minister Rao Birender Singh. 

A few days later, he developed second thoughts and went back to his parent Congress party. However, the homecoming was short-lived and within nine hours he was back in the United Front prompting a relieved chief minister to declare Gaya Ram was now Aya Ram.

Thus came into being the dictum ‘Aya Ram, Gaya Ram’ which refers to party hoppers who seek greener pastures when their prospects in their parent organisation appear bleak. Now, weeks ahead of the 16th Lok Sabha elections, several parties have been hit hard by deserters much to the delight of an upbeat BJP where most are headed to.

With Narendra Modi leading an aggressive, never-seen-before campaign for the BJP and NDA, it is least surprising that the disgruntled elements from political parties of the north, west, east and south are seeking shelter with the BJP.

The weeks ahead of the elections have seen at least 50 politicians changing affiliations with most making a beeline for the BJP. 

However, Odisha has bucked the popular trend. Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik’s BJD has attracted leaders from across the political spectrum in the state. Congress was stumped to see its Legislature Party leader Bhupinder Singh and senior leader Anup Sai joining the BJD just the other day.

Andhra Pradesh has been the worst hit state for the Congress where Chief Minister N Kiran Kumar Reddy formed a separate political party. 

A number of Congress MPs have either joined the fledgling YSR Congress launched by Y S Jagan Mohan Reddy or the TDP led by N Chandrababu Naidu. The biggest shock was when Union Minister D Purandeswari, who had quit the Congress after the decision to carve out Telangana, joined the BJP. 

Bihar is one state where virtually every party had sulking leaders who have changed loyalties. Ram Kripal Yadav, RJD chief Lalu Prasad’s Man Friday, joined the BJP after being denied the Lok Sabha ticket from his constituency Pataliputra. Prasad chose to field his daughter Misa Bharti from the constituency carefully nurtured by Yadav, prompting him to bolt from RJD to the saffron camp.

Prominent leaders such as Rao Inderjit Singh, Jagdambika Pal, Venod Sharma, Bhagwati Prasad, Rao Uday Pratap Singh, Mehboob Kaiser have quit the Congress which is now being perceived as a sinking ship given the 10-year `anti-incumbency’ experienced by the ruling UPA coalition which it leads.

In far-away Arunachal Pradesh, Gegong Apang, who holds the record of being the second longest serving chief minister in the country, also turned his back on the Congress to opt for the BJP. Apang, who was the chief minister for 22 years, had a brief stint of 43 days with the BJP in 2003.

In Assam, the once formidable Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) suffered a blow when its former president Chandra 

Mohan Patowary and a colleague, Hitendra Nath Goswami, joined the BJP.AASU assistant general secretary Rituparna Baruah quit his outfit to join the BJP.

The Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) lost a Lok Sabha member, Kameshwar Baitha, and legislator Hemlal Murmu. Baitha tipped to get a BJP ticket. Congress legislator Chandra Shekhar Dubey joined the Trinamool Congress.

In Maharashtra, the Shiv Sena has lost three of its sitting MPs. Anand Paranjpe and Ganesh Dudhgaonkar  joined the Nationalist Congress Party, and Bhausaheb Wakchaure, the Congress.

Amar Singh and Jaya Prada, who were expelled from the Samajwadi Party about three years back, were trying to get entry into the Congress. 

However, senior leaders were okay with Jaya Prada but had reservations over allowing Amar Singh into the party. With the two leaders keen on being together in the same party, they opted for Rashtriya Lok Dal of Ajit Singh.

In Bihar, Lalu Prasad’s RJD lost  three-time MLC Ghulam Gaus who joined the JD(U) in the presence of Chief Minister Nitish Kumar. Gaus did not hide the reason for his quitting the RJD. “I did not get a ticket,” he said. 

Abdul Bari Siddiqui, along with 12 other Bihar legislators, had walked out of the RJD to join the JD (U), but their rebellion was short-lived as Lalu succeeded in winning them over.

NCP was in trouble in Bihar as its state unit chief Nagmani quit the party after the Congress-RJD-NCP alliance was announced. 

RJD had left one seat – Katihar – for the NCP in the seat sharing deal. Nagmani was hopeful of a candidature from Chatra and may now get it from the BJP. Disbursal of tickets have alienated ambitious leaders in the Left citadel of Tripura, where 32 Congress leaders have sent their resignations to party president Sonia Gandhi. Now, it is up to the electorate to give their verdict over these changing political loyalties. 

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