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RS polls: A shameful state of politics

The latest round of Rajya Sabha elections saw blatant cross-voting by MLAs on a major scale, endangering the Congress government in Himachal Pradesh and embarrassing the Samajwadi Party in UP.
Last Updated 28 February 2024, 23:57 IST

Defections have become the currency of politics, upsetting the mandate given by the people to their representatives and bringing standards to ever newer lows.

The latest round of Rajya Sabha elections saw blatant cross-voting by MLAs on a major scale, endangering the Congress government in Himachal Pradesh and embarrassing the Samajwadi Party in UP.

Till now, defections by MLAs to another party have brought down governments, as was seen in Maharashtra in 2022 and in Bihar recently, when the JD(U) contingent with its leader Nitish Kumar crossed over to the NDA.

But it is the first time that cross-voting in Rajya Sabha elections has put a government in peril, as it has happened in Himachal Pradesh.

In both Himachal Pradesh and UP, the BJP gained, and the gain overshadows the embarrassment it suffered in Karnataka when one of its members voted for the Congress candidate and another member abstained.

In UP, the BJP won eight seats out of 10, one more than it was expected to win, when seven SP MLAs voted in favour of the BJP candidate. The Congress could not get its candidate, Abhishek Singhvi, elected in Himachal Pradesh, though it had 40 MLAs in the Assembly and the support of three Independents, against the BJP’s 25 MLAs.

Six Congress MLAs and the Independents voted for the BJP candidate, who was then declared the winner by draw of lots after the votes were tied. The failure of the Congress to win the seat has led to the BJP’s demand for the resignation of Chief Minister Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu, and the state’s politics is in turmoil.

The Congress faces the prospect of losing the lone North Indian perch it has. The BJP can certainly be blamed for engineering the cross-voting and effecting an ambush on the Congress and the SP.

But it has proved again and again that it wouldn’t hold any punches back and wouldn’t bother about scruples in political and electoral games. What happened in the Chandigarh municipal corporation last month should have alerted the Congress to what could happen in Shimla. 

The SP and the Congress proved themselves to be inept and smug in managing their legislative resources and ensuring that their candidates won. This has happened many times in the past.

The Congress also did not address its internal problems in time before the election. The airdropping of Singhvi, an outsider, as a candidate had caused unhappiness in the party.

There was also unhappiness about Sukhu’s leadership. The BJP exploited the situation and came up trumps.

There is a dicey political situation in the state now, with the cross-voting MLAs in the BJP’s custody, having allegedly been taken away in CRPF vehicles, according to the Congress. This is the state of politics in the country now, and it seems set to continue.

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(Published 28 February 2024, 23:57 IST)

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