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Last Updated : Jul 11, 2019 05:03 PM IST | Source: Moneycontrol.com

Crumbling Congress: A look at major defections from the party across states

The problem of 'mass exodus' is not just limited to Congress but has also plagued other Opposition parties like the TDP in Andhra Pradesh and the TMC in West Bengal.

Atharva Pandit @AtharvaPandit3

As the Congress-Janata Dal (Secular) government in Karnataka fights for survival, and is hoping that its rebel legislators take back their resignations— even as more submit theirs— the Grand Old Party received a jolt in Goa on July 10.

Ten of Congress' Members of Legislative Assembly (MLAs) put in their resignations and merged with the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). This trend, of party legislators deserting the Congress in hordes, is being witnessed across states, and increasingly so after the party's rout in Lok Sabha polls.

Here's a look at the Congress meltdown in different states, where legislators have either gone on to join the BJP, or some other party.

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Karnataka

On July 6, 13 MLAs— 10 from Congress and three from JD(S)— trooped to the Speaker's office to submit their resignations. That, however, was not the last of it, as the Independent MLAs supporting the government too put in their papers and extended support to the BJP in case the saffron party forms a government.

More resignations from the Congress camp followed. Reports suggested several theories for the mass resignations, from a coup engineered by the BJP to fissures within the Congress-JDS camps coming out in the open.

Congress leaders in the state, particularly DK Shivakumar, the party's 'troubleshooter', put up a brave face and a tough fight, but experts have observed that there is very little chance of the government eventually making it through. While some of the rebel legislators have stated that they have resigned as MLAs but not as members of the party, Congress on its part has appealed for them to be disqualified.

Also Read | Karnataka LIVE: Rebel MLAs leave for Bengaluru; SC refuses urgent hearing of Speaker's plea

Goa

Even as the Congress struggled to handle the crisis in Karnataka, late July 10 evening, over 10 Congress MLAs in Goa— including Leader of Opposition, Chandrakant Kavlekar— broke away to merge with the BJP.

The group of MLAs, led by Kavlekar, earlier met Assembly Speaker Rajesh Patnekar and submitted a letter, informing him about them breaking away from the legislative party.

The MLAs also ensured that the anti-defection law does not apply in this case, considering that the number of MLAs who jumped ship was two-third, in which case the anti-defection law cannot be triggered.

Reports suggest that the defections were not unexpected, since the Goa Congress had been in a disarray for some time now, starting with high-profile defections from the party to the BJP in March 2017 and October 2018.

While the Congressmen who have jumped ships stated that they are not looking out for any posts in the Goa Cabinet, reports suggest that a Cabinet reshuffle is in order.

Telangana

In June, 12 Congress legislators from Telangana deserted the party to join the ruling Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS).

The switch, according to reports, came after the Congress' defeat in 2018 polls, where it had won 19 seats.

With the resignation of state party chief Uttam Kumar Reddy as MLA after his election to the Lok Sabha, the party's strength in Assembly came down to 18. That became important for the Congress legislators because with the Congress seat share reduced to 18, the 12 legislators— 2/3rd of the members of the party— could jump ships without worrying about the anti-defection law.

Maharashtra

Maharashtra is another state where the Congress is ridden with factionalism. Party leaders in the state admit that with the Assembly elections due in some months, several functionaries within the party are looking to join the BJP.

Already, senior leaders such as Leader of the Opposition Radhakrishna Vikhe-Patil have jumped ships and joined the BJP, while others— from MLAs to functionaries— are willing to join the saffron combine of BJP and Shiv Sena before the polls, leaders from both the parties have said.

The grand old party's leaders in the state admit that the party is in crisis, and under-prepared for the elections, which is probably prompting workers to defect.

Gujarat

Similar story as Maharashtra played out in neighbouring Gujarat, where five Congress legislators had quit to join the BJP in March. The reasons that the MLAs gave ranged from "development-oriented" politics of the BJP to the infighting within the state unit of the party.

Reports suggest that two more MLAs— including Alpesh Thakor— are on their way out of the party and set to join the BJP. Thakor warned that apart from him, more Congress legislators are on their way out of the party in Gujarat. Congress currently has 69 MLAs in the Gujarat Assembly.

Madhya Pradesh

While there is no visible threat to the Kamal Nath-led Congress government in Madhya Pradesh, the state government has a wafer thin majority.

During the Assembly elections in the state in December 2018, Congress had secured 114 seats, two short of the magic number of 116 (MP has 230 Assembly seats). However, the party had managed to form a government by taking support of two Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) legislators, one Samajwadi Party (SP) MLA and four Independents.

Reports suggest that in order to avoid a Karnataka-like situation in the state, Nath moved to keep his flock together for the Assembly session that started from July 8.

The problem of 'mass exodus' is not just limited to Congress but has also plagued other Opposition parties like the Telugu Desam Party (TDP) in Andhra Pradesh and the Trinamool Congress (TMC) in West Bengal.

While four TDP Members of Parliament (MPs) joined the BJP on June 20, senior functionaries and leaders of the TMC have been defecting to the BJP in recent months.

"All this is a part of our membership drive," a BJP leader said, tongue firmly in cheek.
First Published on Jul 11, 2019 05:03 pm
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