Bengal: Why Do Netas Defect? And Does It Show Electoral Benefits?

The massive exodus of Trinamool leaders to the BJP has been the main talking point in Bengal politics this election.

3 min read

Every election usually has a set of buzz words or political phrases that are used liberally throughout the campaign period.

Over the years, we’ve seen many such political slogans, from 'Jai Jawan Jai Kisan', 'Indira Hatao, Desh Bachao', 'Congress ka haath aam aadmi ke saath'…even closer home in Bengal like 'aamaar baari, tomaar bari, Naxalbari', 'Krishi amaader bhitti, shilpo amaader bhobhishyot', and the slogan that demolished the last one- 'Maa, Maati Manush'.

This election season in West Bengal, however, the predominant political phrase seems to be: “Kaaj korte parchi na.”

To be specific, "doley theke kaaj korte parchi na".

Basically, what every leader defecting from the Trinamool Congress (TMC) to the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in West Bengal has cited as a reason to desert Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee.


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In the West Bengal Assembly Elections of 2016, the BJP ended with three MLAs in the Assembly. After the recent spate of defections, over the past couple of months, the party now has 21 MLAs from the outgoing Assembly, apart from six of its own MLAs.

Additionally, there are also former MLAs Suvendu Adhikari and Rajib Banerjee, who resigned as legislators before joining the BJP. These figures are expected to rise as the elections get closer.

What 'Kaaj Korte Parchi Na' Means

Now, the question is, why do these leaders defect? Did they genuinely realise, coincidentally just two months before the elections, that kaaj ta aar just kora jacche na? Or even better question, er aage emon ki kaaj korchilen?

Kaaj korte parchi na” simply means ki party mein meri aur nahi chal rahi. Or that there are other leaders in my area of jurisdiction who hold more power and command than me.

One possible reason for defection, therefore, is better stature at the new party- in this case, the BJP.

Do Defections Help Electoral Numbers?

This bring us to the next question, which is, can a leader, no matter how popular, hold the same amount of sway when they move from one party to another?

The answer to that is both yes and no. While some leaders have emerged as genuine mass leaders, others may have won the last election because of the party they were representing.

Case in point- Former Trinamool honcho Suvendu Adhikari, known to be a strongman in Medinipur and adjoining districts. Suvendu’s defection to the BJP, even by the Trinamool's own estimates, will turn some seats towards the BJP, even if it is to the tune of 8-10 seats.

On the other hand, someone like a Baishali Dalmiya, former Trinamool MLA from Bally, who joined the BJP in Delhi, after being ferried there by a special chartered plane, may not turn votes as much, because as new legislators, they were voted in last time on the back of a massive Mamata wave.

Therefore, all defections are not equal. While some may show electoral gains, others are an attempt to win a perception battle.


What After The Defections?

Now the next step. Defection ho gaya, naye leaders bhi party mein aa gayein. Now what?

This is where things get tricky.

Situations like these, when there’s a massive influx of people from one party to another, often cause a rift between the old guard and the new guard in the party that's taking in people.

The BJP faced this at many levels- from the top of the hierarchy to the bottom. Only last year there were reports of a rift between party chief in Bengal, Dilip Ghosh, and inductee from Trinamool, Mukul Roy. For a while there were reports of Roy looking to leave the party, before the Delhi high command stepped in and gave him a lucrative central position.

On the ground as well, there have been reports of clashes between old and new BJP cadre in places like Asansol, Durgapur, Kalna, Nandigram etc.

So, while defections are a perceptional win, it is also important to examine what it does to the party taking in all these new members.


What About The Trinamool Congress?

These defections have exposed one thing for all to see- which is the major factionalism in the Trinamool Congress.

While the party has time and again claimed that these defections will not hurt them electorally, the fact is, that they were unsuccessful in keeping their flock together.

Letting leader after leader move to the BJP could definitely not have been a part of the plan.

And also, stop calling these leaders corrupt. If they were, why was the TMC harbouring them for so long?

It is difficult to estimate at this point, how many more aaya raam, gaya ram moments we’ll see before the elections. In the meanwhile, is anyone keeping a tab on how expensive these chartered flights are?

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