The Bharatiya Janata Party was the party of choice for 44.9% of the legislators who defected to other political parties and re-contested elections between 2016 and 2020, showed a report released by the Association for Democratic Reforms on Thursday. The Congress, on the other hand, accounted for the most MLAs who quit to join another party.

The Association for Democratic Reforms and the National Election Watch analysed the election affidavits of 443 MLAs and MPs who switched parties and re-contested polls in the last five years. It noted that the recent fall of governments in Madhya Pradesh, Manipur, Goa, Arunachal Pradesh and Karnataka were all due to defections of MLAs.

The BJP was the biggest gainer, with 182 (44.9%) of the 405 re-contesting MLAs joining the saffron camp between 2016 and 2020. The Congress came at a distant second, with 38, or 9.4% new joinees. At the third position was the Telangana Rashtra Samithi party, which welcomed 25 new legislators on board during this period, the report said.

Read full report here

Source: Association for Democratic Reforms

Out of the 405 MLAs across the states who quit and switched parties, 42%, or 170, were from the Congress, the report found, while only 4.4%, that is, 18 BJP legislators disowned their allegiance to the party in this period.

Out of the 12 Lok Sabha members who switched parties, five were from the BJP. In the Rajya Sabha, out of the 17 who quit, seven were from the Congress, the ADR report said.

In the last five years, 10 (62.5%) out of the 16 Rajya Sabha MPs who changed their political allegiance joined the BJP, and five (41.7%) out of 12 Lok Sabha MPs who defected to join the Congress in the Lok Sabha elections of 2019, it added.

Source: Association for Democratic Reforms

As for the financial background, the average assets of the re-contesting MLAs and MPs grew by 39% ,or Rs 5.85 crore, the Association for Democratic Reforms said.

Reasons behind mass defections

The ADR said that the most plausible reasons behind such defections and switching of parties were the absence of value-based politics, a strong desire for money and power, strong nexus between money and muscle, and the dearth of “efficient, honest and credible leaders”.

It also pointed to other problems like the absence of laws on how a political party should function, and “unimpeded entry” of criminals into politics.

“The principles of democracy rely upon ‘government of the people, by the people and for the people’ where ‘interest of citizens’ is of paramount importance in comparison to ‘private interest of our politicians’,” the report said. “Until and unless these trends are not reined in, our current electoral and political situation is bound to deteriorate further.”