India

Resorts Are Last Resort for Indian Political Parties to Save Lawmakers From Poachers

New Delhi (Sputnik): The Indian state of Rajasthan is currently grappling with a political crisis in the wake of the ruling Congress party facing a revolt from the state’s then-deputy chief Sachin Pilot, who has been pushing for the state’s top position of chief minister, currently occupied by old guard Congress politician Ashok Gehlot.

The question of what prompts political parties in India to herd their legislators exclusively inside five-star resorts is enough to boggle anyone’s mind, especially those who are unfamiliar with the nuances of the country’s politics. 

Whenever there is a political impasse in an Indian state, the ruling parties fear that members of their their legislative assembly will be poached by the main opposition party as it threatens the government’s majority in the state legislature. Most of the time, these lawmakers are enticed by the opposition political camp with money or coveted portfolios in the new government so that they switch sides, crossing the party line. 

Therefore, when lawmakers are kept in resorts, they are sequestered to minimise their contact with the outside world. Their activities are constantly monitored and they are engaged in various activities throughout their stay. It is during these times that the pictures of these public representatives playing cricket or indulging in other sports go viral on social media.

What surprises many is that this horse-trading is no longer a covert phenomenon. Though not limited to any one or two political parties, resort politics seem to have become an interesting feature which is now one of the key political moves in the country. Some of the most recent ‘Resort Politics’ incidents are worth a look:

1. Rajasthan

Fearing poaching attempts by the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in Rajasthan state, the Congress government has moved its legislators to a resort. In the latest development, the legislators have been shifted from the city of Jaipur to another resort in the city of Jaisalmer.

Speculation is rife that the rebel Congress legislator Sachin Pilot, along with 18 supporting legislators, may join the opposition BJP. In response, the ruling Congress party has approached the High Court to disqualify the lawmakers from the State Assembly, a petition challenged by Pilot’s camp.

State chief Ashok Gehlot has alleged that the BJP is offering $3 million to each lawmaker willing to side with them.

2. Madhya Pradesh

After several Congress lawmakers rebelled and joined the opposition BJP in the central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh, the Congress party government lost its majority in March this year.

Soon after, the BJP assumed charge of the state government and former state chief minister Shivajraj Singh Chouhan was then sworn-in as the new Madhya Pradesh chief minister. Before the government was toppled, the BJP had housed over 20 Congress legislators in a resort in Karnataka before the floor test.

3. Karnataka

In July of last year, the democratically-elected government in the southern state Karnataka, led by chief minister H.D. Kumaraswamy under the ruling coalition of Congress and Janata Dal (Secular), was replaced by the BJP under the leadership of B.S. Yediyurappa. He is now the state’s  chief minister.

The BJP established its majority in July last year during a trust vote in the state legislature.

When the crisis began, both the camps moved their lawmakers to a resort in a desperate bid to prevent them from surrendering to the opposite side. The parties also came under scanner for spending a huge amount of money on resort politics.

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