The recent defection of four Rajya Sabha MPs from the Telugu Desam Party to the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party, merely a month after simultaneous Assembly and Lok Sabha elections in Andhra Pradesh, can only be termed as political opportunism.
Do not disqualify under anti-defection law
The fact that these MPs merged with the BJP as a group helped them stay clear of the anti-defection law, which stipulates that a breakaway group constitute at least two-thirds of a legislative party’s strength and that it merge with another party.
Present position of TDP in legislatures
The TDP had been reduced to just 23 and two seats in the newly elected Andhra Pradesh and Telangana Assemblies, respectively. It now commands a much lower legislative profile with just two members in the Rajya Sabha and three in the Lok Sabha.
What is the reason behind defection?
There is a tendency among legislators to seek greener pastures at a time of crisis for their parties, but the nature of these defections suggests that this was not a simple case of leaving a party whose political strength had considerably diminished. The BJP is even more of a non-player in Andhra Pradesh.
Some of the defecting legislators are under suspicion as they were subjected to probes by Central Bureau of Investigation, Enforcement Directorate and Income Tax officials over financial transactions. It would be in order to ask whether the defections are aimed at securing favour with the government at the Centre in regard to the investigations.
At the same time, the fact that the BJP has chosen to accommodate legislators the party had only months ago castigated for being corrupt, and against whom one of its own MPs had sought action from the Rajya Sabha ethics committee, suggests that the benefits of accrual to its numbers outweighed even the pretence of principle. The BJP has managed to increase its strength in the Rajya Sabha to 75 with the addition of the defectors from the TDP. Fresh elections to the Rajya Sabha are due for a substantive number of seats by 2020, and defections such as these will help the ruling combine get closer to the majority mark in the 245-member Upper House.