The adage that politics is the last resort of the scroundel was not born in the Indian context. But of late, shamefully enough, it has come to characterise Indian politics. India has contributed a new metaphor for using a short cut to power and the underlying horse-trading: resort politics. People's representatives who enter legislatures after winning the mandate based on certain policies and programmes of their party and alliances, soon cross floors and make others do the same, or prevent others doing it against them. Resort politics has become a method for all this. Most recently what Maharashtra's Urban Developmenmt Minister Eknath Shinde resorted to was nothing different: he became a dissident leader to topple Maharashtra's Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA), the three party front of Shiv Sena, NCP and the Congress led by Uddhav Thackeray. After extricating MLAs from the Sena fold, behind the back of Thackeray, Shinde's destination was the BJP stronghold of Surat in Gujarat. By that time, it was certain that behind this was the BJP which recently has been engineering from the front such turncoat politics. When parties fail to win popular support in polling based on their manifesto and campaign, it is incumbent on them to sit in opposition and fulfil their political role. But instead of that, the BJP has evolved a nascent political line of grabbing power by means fair or foul. In Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka, Jharkhand ,Goa and in northeastern states, the party employed this strategy in a most degrading manner. The political drama now unfolding in Maharashtra is only part of this farcical show, played out with the arrogance that despite popular will being against them, they are entitled to using all illicit means to grab power.
Even when people vote to keep the BJP and the sangh parivar at a distance from power, and vote to power other parties and fronts, the BJP has developed its own device of luring legislators who seek power and pelf with tantalising offers. And the party's modus operandi has come to be called 'Operation Lotus'. The subversion plan consists in waiting for the moment when discontent erupts in the ruling party and the front and then penetrating that loophole. Eknath Shinde, a popular star in the party, could not reconcile himself to the fact that Uddhav Thackeray was promoting Sena MP Sanjay Raut beyond limit. Insiders say that it was recognizing this that Union Minister Narayan Rane and former Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis set the stage for the blossoming of lotus in Maharashtra on the bidding and directions of Union Home Minister Amit Shah. The smoke of this unrest was already sighted in the Rajya Sabha election when some Sena and Congress members cross-voted and 'bought' more seats than the BJP had calculated. And in the polling to the Legislative Council last Monday, at least 20 MLAs of MVA alliance also cross-voted. The BJP won all the five seats it contested. After that, Shinde arrived in Surat with a dozen MLAs in search of a resort. That accelerated the floor-crossing from the Sena. The BJP has also intensified its efforts to avenge those who caused a break-up of the Shiv Sena-BJP alliance which had lasted for a quarter of a century. There are no signs of the BJP's effort failing in re-establishing the old tie-up to rule Maharashtra once again. And not for nothing else did Uddhav Thackeray agree to vacate his official residence in advance sensing the message in all this.
Operation Kamal, a byword for subversion of democracy, is a short-cut adopted by the BJP to rule all states in addition to the Centre. This anti-democratic act has become a routine path to hoist governments that people have rejected, on the back of money power. By ensuring a two-thirds of the party's members defecting, the BJP is also rendering the defection law helpless. Even though there is a blatant upending of democracy, even the judiciary has no choice but to ask for amendment and reform of law in this regard. Earlier in Karnataka, the court had dismissed the Speaker's move to block the resignation of MLAs during a political horse-trading. . Even then, in the judgment, the present Chief Justice, NV Ramana, could only take solace by suggesting that the Tenth Schedule of the Constitution should be strengthened to check the horse-trading which deprives the people of stable governments. And in the case following the BJP's move to pull down the Kamal Nath government in Madhya Pradesh, the highest court had observed that the practice of hijacking MLAs from parties and keeping them in safe havens was not in line with democratic norms. At the time, Justice DY Chandrachud also noted that the anti-defection law should be capable of eradicating the menace sprouting against the declared principles of the Constitution and the country. It is the Parliament that should take the initiative to strengthen the law through reforms. But when those holding the reins of that Parliament are themselves looking for unlawful means of sabotaging democracy in the states, then who is to save whom?