The Underlying Paradox in Indian Politics: Horse Trading

The BJP led government had an eye for three states to fulfill their complete dominance over the country- Maharashtra, West Bengal and Kerala.
Political horse trading | INSIDEVIEW
Political horse trading | INSIDEVIEW
Joydeep Narayan Deb

In the recent years, global politics has witnessed the term “horse trading” numerous times. This widespread metaphor for complex bargaining used in journalism has turned into an urban slang because of the exploitation of its uses by the political parties in republican countries.

Although the contemporary politics of India practices horse trading at a full swing by hiding behind the grey areas of negotiation, horse trading has been a part of Indian politics since 13th century. During this medieval era cavalry was the main strength of war; since there was no existence of firearms. Indian kings used to buy out rival chieftains in order to gather horses to win wars. It reflects the strategy of buying opponent’s strength.

On the other hand, Indian mythology suggests the existence of horse trading from a very ancient era. During the time of Mahabharata, Yuyutsu who was one of the kaurava brothers fought from the sides of Pandava. Maharaja Shalya was a victim of floor crossing by the kauravas. Even the negotiation of Krishna and Narayani Sena to get involved in the war refers to the grey areas of the Indian Politics.

After the World War II, every country has become dependent on each other and nurtured a mutual political understanding. Along with the understanding, several other grey areas were nurtured globally too, out of which horse trading became quite popular.

Floor-crossing or horse trading took place in Haryana in 1967 for the first time in Independent India where in a span of few weeks several events of horse trading shook the whole political scenario, because of which a fresh election had to be conducted in 1968. This gave birth to a famous colloquial political term “Aaya Ram, Gaya Ram”. It later became a centre of numerous political jokes and cartoons about MLAs turncoating over the nights. Although to end this dirty stain in politics, an anti defection law was made in 1985, the trading still surfaces on the political floor by practicing several loopholes of the existing law.

The current BJP led government was also said to be involved in some alleged horse trading incidents. In 2018, people of Karnataka witnessed a major inconvenience in the state’s politics for Bharatiya Janata Party’s attempt to throw out Indian National Congress from power by buying several legislative members even after the election took part. The post-election floor crossing might have led the state to conduct another election by costing a fortune.

The BJP led government had an eye for three states to fulfill their complete dominance over the country- Maharashtra, West Bengal and Kerala.

In Maharashtra and West Bengal, the regional and vernacular emotions towards the politics play an important role, however in Kerala the political scenario is based on a complete different ideology which is communism. So, it was comparatively easier for BJP to break Maharshtra’s and West Bengal’s forts instead of Kerala’s. In the recent months, we all have witnessed Shiv Sena’s downfall due to insider politics and alleged horse-trading. This frightful incident took place in June this year where many MLA’s of the ex governing party were relocated to anonymous resorts to avoid floor crossing.

On 2020, the senior congress leader Digvijay Singh alleged BJP of involving in horse trading in West Bengal. After the denial of the allegation, BJP was witnessed to involve in another incident of conspiracy to topple Jharkhand government. According to a complaint from a congress legislator, three fellow congress MLAs were detained by West Bengal police with a large amount of cash to use in horse trading. The fear has been roaming around the politics of Jharkhand. The MLA’s from the present government claimed to be reached out by BJP to topple the government. After the election commission of India decided to disqualify Jharkhand’s Chief Minister Hemant Soren’s membership from the assembly, it is quite sure of the fall of the government. Many MLA’s were already relocated in order to avoid horse trading.

At the same time, when ED is harassing Delhi Government’s Education Minister Manish Sisodia, on 24th August CM Arvind Kejriwal accused BJP of trying to floor-cross MLAs from the current AAP led government by bribing 200 million each or to face Manish Sisodia’s situation. According to Arvind Kejriwal, BJP has already toppled Goa, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Assam, MP, Bihar, Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Assam and Meghalaya. This number of states is frightening itself since because of the topple, the value of the votes given by people went in vain.

All these incidents raise so many questions on the loyalty of the representatives and the government. The culture of horse trading or floor crossing is causing a big distress in the politics. People are losing faith over individual personalities and rather opt for parties since the political ideologies of a person shifts along with floor crossing.

As horse trading causes a political tension over the citizens, it might backfire someday. Starting from the French revolution in the 18th century to the recent political crisis in Sri Lanka reflects only one cause and that is the piled up rage of the citizens towards their government. The frequent horse trading incidents of India will soon lead the country towards One Nation, One Party politics by withdrawing the value of votes. Usually this is how a political crisis or emergency situation builds up in a republican country.

Is India going to see another emergency term very soon? Will it led to a disastrous civil war among the different political ideologists like Sri Lanka? Will it cause monetary inflation for India to follow the footsteps of Bolivia? Moreover Mahabharata was a mythology or a brilliant piece of literature at best, if horse trading didn’t help to win a war then; how is it possible to solve any recent crisis by buying and selling individuals? This spineless practice must be stopped before it’s too late to stop the people coming out at streets with a rage against the government irrespective of the parties who caused it at the first place.

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