Thursday, Aug 11, 2022 08:45 [IST]

Last Update: Thursday, Aug 11, 2022 03:04 [IST]

Party hoppers

Why do some people switch political parties? After all, if someone is committed enough to a particular vision of politics, wouldn’t they be relatively immune to the charms of its competitors? What drives some people to quit one party and join another? Elections are important in the Indian political system to test the policies of parties that have won public mandates. The mandate allows opportunities for new possibilities and newer people. Change within governments is also affected by this electoral process. This is important so that public representatives maintain communication and contact with the public.

In a setup where switching parties-mostly from the opposition to the ruling party-is a common phenomenon, and a political strategy we almost take for granted, some pertinent questions do arise, especially amongst the newer generation or first time voters.

The important question that arises is: How to find newer people and new opportunities in a party that is chosen by the public over and over again? Can parties that win elections repeatedly find a way to give opportunities to new faces? The second important question is: Can political parties based on an idea draw a line that makes politics all-inclusive, fully participative and an ideological mission? The most telling reasons are connected with ideology and party leaders. If people feel themselves to be in tune with particular a party in terms of its core values and leader, they are naturally attracted to join it. However, they are equally inclined to eventually quit the same party if they feel it or its leadership has changed tack and become more remote.


On the other hand, it could be the question of political survival for these defectors but it goes without saying that these party hoppers, mostly formidable former politicians devoid of any guilt, could well be described as the true arbiters of realpolitik and unpretentious practitioners of political opportunism? The political turncoats, of course, are willing to fit into any robe and definitely, and unabashedly, subjugate a political party’s high ideological blinders. At the same time, these career politicians, indeed, step as a strong contender in case a political party is unable to find suitable leaders from its own ranks.

Time and again, it has been proven right that the larger the defections from a party, the lower the prospects of its victory and vice versa! Yet, a couple of decades of coalition politics at the national level did affect the party hoppers. Their political place was more dominantly taken over by political parties themselves. Individuals were replaced by outfits.

Not long ago, political jargons such as horse trading and fence sitters were quite common. They still are…but rather subdued because of better anti-defection laws. The 91st Amendment to Constitution succeeded in reining in party hoppers to an extent, but then, effectively contributed to the coining of a new term –‘poaching’ – a bequest of the coalition era. Mahatma Gandhi once described politics without principles as a danger to human virtues. Can turncoats and alliances subscribe to any principle?

Sikkim at a Glance

  • Area: 7096 Sq Kms
  • Capital: Gangtok
  • Altitude: 5,840 ft
  • Population: 6.10 Lakhs
  • Topography: Hilly terrain elevation from 600 to over 28,509 ft above sea level
  • Climate:
  • Summer: Min- 13°C - Max 21°C
  • Winter: Min- 0.48°C - Max 13°C
  • Rainfall: 325 cms per annum
  • Language Spoken: Nepali, Bhutia, Lepcha, Tibetan, English, Hindi