Gujarat MLAs Leave B’Luru, but is Resort Politics Here to Stay?


Gujarat Congress MLA show their unity at a press conference at a resort on the outskirts of Bengaluru.
Gujarat Congress MLA show their unity at a press conference at a resort on the outskirts of Bengaluru.(Photo: PTI)

Gujarat MLAs Leave B’Luru, but is Resort Politics Here to Stay?

In the wee hours of Monday, 44 Gujarat Congress MLAs ended their one-week-long “resortvaas” as they left Bengaluru. But after exiting one resort, they went to another in Aanad, 70 kilometres from Ahmedabad, where they will be kept till the Rajya Sabha elections.

These MLAs were the latest guests of Karnataka’s thriving resort politics – something that has become a prominent political tactic for parties.

Resort Politics, Yeh Kya Hein?

It simply means keeping your party members under house arrest to avoid being poached; but instead of the comfort of their homes, politicos are holed up in luxurious resorts with big pools – for logistical reasons of course!

It Began in the ‘80s

Yup, resort politics is not something new at all. The legendary, mass-hero-turned-mass-politician of Andhra Pradesh, NT Rama Rao aka NTR, was the first to start this resort politics.

So, in 1984 (stay with me), he went to the United States for a heart surgery. By the time he returned, the Governor had made someone else the Chief Minister of the then Andhra Pradesh.

The Tollywood hero absolutely pissed, and announced that he would seek a confidence vote in the assembly to prove that he is still boss.

He didn’t want to risk the opposition bribing his MLAs, so he took all 164 of them – including current AP Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu – for holiday to a resort in Mysuru

They returned after three weeks and NTR won that confidence vote and became CM.

The New Game in the Playbook

Soon Karnataka become the hotbed of resort politics. In 2002, then Maharashtra Congress chief minister Vilasrao Deshmukh moved his MLAs to Bengaluru ahead of a trust vote, which he subsequently won.

A year later, BS Yedyurappa used resort politics in the state itself and became the chief minister of Karnataka. It was later used to throw him out of power (talk about irony).

Many more have followed this trend since.

The First Hung Assembly Emerged From a Resort?

Did you know resort politics played a huge role in creating the first hung assembly in Karnataka?

In the 2004 assembly elections, no political party got majority and JD(S) emerged the kingmaker. So what did JD(S) leader HD Kumaraswamy do? He booked a resort for his MLAs to chill at while he brokered deals with major political parties.

All States Have Played This Game

According to political analysts, expect for Kerala, all the south Indian states, at some point or the other, have indulged in resort politics.

But Why?

Harish Ramaswamy, a political scientist says even though unethical, this has been accepted by the people. This is the reason why there is hardly any outrage about such practices.

Politics is more about the drama involved in it, rather than the ethics these days, and in that context, such practices are accepted. People are more concerned with the political outcomes than the political practices, this is considered a tragedy by many political scientists like me.
Harish Ramaswamy

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