0As many as 170 MLAs left the Congress to join other parties during the elections held between 2016-2020, while only 18 BJP legislators switched parties to contest the polls in this period, according to a report by poll rights group Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR). The report said between 2016-2020, 182 of the 405 re-contesting MLAs, who switched political parties, joined the BJP, followed by 38 who joined the Congress and 25 who joined the Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS).
Here’s a look at some of the prominent names that quit parties or switched sides ahead of elections:
Jyotiraditya Scindia had switched over to the BJP in March 2020 along with 22 supporter MLAs. Their resignation from the Congress and the MP Assembly led to the fall of the Kamal Nath government on March 20, and return of Shivraj Singh Chouhan as chief minister on March 23. In his resignation letter, Scindia said he was unable to serve the country and his state while remaining in the Congress.
West Bengal political heavyweight Suvendu Adhikari joined the BJP on December 19, 2020 days after he resigned from the Trinamool Congress and gave up his cabinet portfolios in the Mamata Banerjee government. In an open letter addressed to the grassroots members of the Trinamool Congress, Adhikari said West Bengal is standing at a critical juncture as the people of the state are destined to make a choice in the 2021 Assembly elections that will impact them forever. Adhikari said that “an extremely deep rot and malaise” has set in in the Trinamool Congress.
On February 12 this year, Trinamool Congress (TMC) MP Dinesh Trivedi resigned from Rajya Sabha over “violence” taking place in Bengal ahead of assembly elections. He further said that he was feeling ‘restless’, ‘suffocated’ and finding it difficult to work in the TMC for quite some time. Trivedi joined the BJP on March 6, 2021.
Congress rebel Ramesh Jarkiholi resigned and joined BJP in 2019. In June 2016, he was inducted into the Siddaramaiah-led government of Karnataka as a cabinet minister. He held the Small Scale Industries Ministry portfolio. He was disqualified from the assembly as per the anti-defection law in 2019, but was re-elected to the assembly on a BJP ticket in December 2019.
Once a key aide to Congress president Sonia Gandhi, prominent spokesperson Tom Vadakkan left the party after serving for almost two decades for its leaders in March 2019. He attacked his party for its stand on the Balakot airstrike as ‘sad’ and joined BJP in the presence of the then party president Amit Shah and minister Ravi Shankar Prasad.
Sabita Indra Reddy
Sabitha Indra Reddy was Home Minister in the Congress government in united Andhra Pradesh. On June 7, 2019, five Congress MLAs, led by senior MLA Sabita Indra Reddy, met TRS working president K T Rama Rao and submitted a list of 12 MLAs willing to join the ruling party.
Rita Bahuguna Joshi
Uttar Pradesh Congress Committee Chief and MLA Rita Bahuguna Joshi quit Congress and joined BJP in October 2016. She hit out at Rahul Gandhi and top leaders saying the leadership was not acceptable to people as the grand old party had lost its reputation under them.
Actor-turned-politician Khushbu Sundar quit the Congress on Monday to join the BJP saying that she had realised that the nation can only move forward under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. She joined the saffron party at its national headquarters. In her career in politics, Khushbu first served in the DMK and then joined Congress. With the BJP, she begins her 3rd innings in politics. Khushbu, while resigning, in a letter to Sonia Gandhi also protested against what she termed as some leaders’ “dictating terms”.
Bollywood actor-turned-politician Urmila Matondkar, who contested the 2019 Lok Sabha elections on a Congress ticket, quit the party in barely five months saying she did not wish to be used for “petty in-house politics”. “It is obvious that the key functionaries of Mumbai Congress are either unable or not committed to bring about a change and transformation in the organisation for the betterment of the party,” she said in a statement to the media. She later joined the Shiv Sena.
Kerala Congress leader PC Chacko on Wednesday submitted his resignation letter to Sonia Gandhi saying that it had become difficult to be a Congress leader in Kerala. This comes even as the party has been finalising its list in Kerala that goes to polls on April 6. “No democracy left in Congress. Candidate list has not been discussed with the state Congress committee. I have sent my resignation to Sonia Gandhi,” he said. He has, however, denied plans of joining BJP so far.