ET View: Over to the voters of Madhya Pradesh


Defection of elected representatives to parties other than the one on which they got elected is a travesty of democracy. In Karnataka, when MLAs resigned from the Congress, it led to change of the government and induction of BJP leader Yedyurappa as chief minister, replacing Congress-Janata Dal (S)’s HD Kumaraswamy.

These ex-MLAs stood for by-elections as BJP candidates, won and were sworn in as ministers, in most cases. You can believe that their resignation as MLAs was entirely the handiwork of their conscience and that their subsequent re-election as BJP candidates and elevation as ministers was an unrelated coincidence. You can also believe in Santa Claus.

If Santa Claus was not at work in summer-eve Madhya Pradesh, the 22 Congress MLAs, who suddenly were gripped by a desire to live at a resort and vanished to Bangalore, were induced by the prospect of becoming ministers in a new government led by the BJP. Here again, whether the MLAs left the Congress because their conscience was not satisfied by the work of chief minister Kamal Nath or on account of more material temptations, we can only speculate.

It is for the voters to punish defectors by defeating them, their backers or proxies in by-polls. If voters do not care, and allow such shenanigans to proceed apace, political parties would try to grab power by inducing MLAs to defect. Ultimately, the quality of a democracy is determined by the democratic sensibility of its people. If no one makes any effort to improve that sensibility, they can only hope to play Santa Claus with a bigger bag of goodies than the rival party’s.

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