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Ahead of polls, it is defection season once again
Wednesday March 12, 2014 10:41 PM, M.R. Narayan Swamy, IANS

With the Lok Sabha battle set to kick-start in less than a month, disgruntled politicians across the country are joining political parties offering them greener pastures.

Almost all parties have been hit hard, in state after state, although the Congress, India's oldest political outfit, is the worst sufferer amid growing signs that it is set for major electoral reverses.

In contrast, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), led by a confident Narendra Modi, the Gujarat chief minister, has won over most deserters nationally as well as LJP leader Ramvilas Paswan as an ally in Bihar.

Nowhere has the Congress suffered more than in Andhra Pradesh, where its decision to create a Telangana state has led to mass desertions, with N. Kiran Kumar Reddy, the last chief minister, forming a new party.

Another prominent defector is D. Purandeswari, a central minister who too dumped the Congress to embrace the BJP.

In Telangana region, the Telugu Desam Party saw three former legislators cross over to the Telangana Rashtra Samithi.

Karnataka's tainted former chief minister B.S. Yeddyurappa is back with the BJP.

One of the biggest blows to the Congress came in Haryana - the birthplace of 'Aya Ram, Gaya Ram' culture -- when Ambala legislator Venod Sharma, a confident of Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda, has quit.

So has Congress MP and former union minister Rao Inderjit Singh, who has joined the BJP.

Nowhere is the defection spree more pronounced than in Bihar, where the April-May election is expected to see a three-way battle involving the Janata Dal-United (JD-U), the Congress-RJD alliance and the BJP.

Rashtriya Janata Dal leader Lalu Prasad's biggest setback was the defection of senior leader Ram Kirpal Yadav, who is joining the BJP. Yadav is now set to take on Lalu Prasad's daughter in the very constituency where he was not allowed to be the RJD candidate.

Another prominent RJD leader, Ghulam Ghouse, has joined the JD-U. So has BJP's suspended legislator Avinash Kumar Singh.

The JD-U has also suffered desertions to the BJP - the two parties were allies for 17 long years until 2013. JD-U legislator Chedi Paswan has gone over to the BJP.

In Assam, the once formidable Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) suffered a blow when its former president Chandra Mohan Patowary and a colleague, Hitendra Nath Goswami, joined the BJP.

Both the Congress and the BJP suffered in Odisha, with more than a dozen leaders from these parties won over by the ruling Biju Janata Dal (BJD).

One of them is Congress legislature party leader Bhupinder Singh, who, like many others complained that the party was not respecting senior members.

The Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) lost a Lok Sabha member, Kamkeswar Baitha, and legislator Hemlal Murmu. The former is tipped to get a BJP ticket. Congress legislator Chandra Shekhar Dubey joined the Trinamool Congress.

In Maharashtra, the Shiv Sena has lost three of its sitting MPs. Anand Paranjpe (Thane) and Ganesh Dudhgaonkar (Parbhani) joined the Nationalist Congress Party, and Bhausaheb Wakchaure (Shirdi), the Congress.

Most political grasshoppers in Uttar Pradesh are from the Congress and the ruling Samajwadi Party. Old Congress loyalist Jagdambika Pal sailed to the BJP, he too complaining that the party does not respect "old timers".

Samajwadi Party MP Brij Bhushan Saran Singh is moving towards the BJP while former Samajwadi veteran Amar Singh has joined the Rashtriya Lok Dal along with actress-politician Jaya Prada.

The unbelievable happened in Kerala. The Revolutionary Socialist Party bid goodbye to the Left Democratic Front, after four decades, and moved over to the Congress-led alliance. On the other side, long-time Congress leader Phillipose Thomas will contest the election with Left backing.

The main beneficiary in West Bengal is the ruling Trinamool Congress, which has attracted both Congress and Left Front leaders. But Somen Mitra, a former state Congress chief, returned to it from the Trinamool.

In Punjab, Congress legislator Jeet Mohinder Singh joined the ruling Akali Dal. But People's Party of Punjab chief Manpreet Singh Badal has allied with the Congress.

In Tamil Nadu, where the Congress finds itself friendless, three of its former legislators - S. Sivaraj, U. Amaramurthy and K. Venkatachalam - are now with the ruling AIADMK.

Some politicians have opted for the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP).

They include former Bihar minister Perween Amanullah, Congress leader Alok Nayak in Odisha, former AIADMK legislator Bader Sayeed in Tamil Nadu and suspended BJP MP Rajan Sushant in Himachal Pradesh. Sushant explained why he did what he did: "The AAP is the only hope for India."

(Inputs for this story came from Quaid Najmi, Vishal Ghulati, Anil Sharma, V. Jagannathan, Jatindra Dash, Imran Khan, Mohammed Shafeeq, Sanu George, Mohit Dubey, Nityanand Shukla, Anup Sharma, Sujit Chakrabarty, Jaideep Sarin, Sirshendu Panth and Fakir Balaji.)

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