George Fernandes to Jagdambika Pal: The Aaya Ram, Gaya Ram of Indian politics | india-news | Hindustan Times
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George Fernandes to Jagdambika Pal: The Aaya Ram, Gaya Ram of Indian politics

Veteran Congressman ND Tiwari’s offer of support to the BJP in exchange for his son Rohit’s entry into the party on Wednesday has put the spotlight back on turncoats or what has come to be known as “Aaya Ram, Gaya Ram” phenomenon of Indian politics.

india Updated: Jan 19, 2017 19:07 IST
A file photo of then BJP president Rajnath Singh with former chief minister ND Tiwari in Lucknow.
A file photo of then BJP president Rajnath Singh with former chief minister ND Tiwari in Lucknow. (HT Photo)

Veteran Congressman ND Tiwari’s offer of support to the BJP in exchange for his son Rohit’s entry into the party on Wednesday has put the spotlight back on turncoats or what has come to be known as “Aaya Ram, Gaya Ram” phenomenon of Indian politics.

The metaphor has its origin in Haryana where Hassanpur MLA Gaya Lal made several political somersaults within a fortnight: leaving Congress to join the United Front (UF), back to the Congress and then again to the UF—in 1967. When he returned to the Congress, party leader Rao Birendra Singh declared at a press conference: “Gaya Ram is Aaya Ram.” Little did he know that he was coining a term that would become a catch phrase in Indian politics.

Read I BJP faces rebellion as ‘outsiders, turncoats’ get preference

There have been many Gaya Rams in politics since then, notwithstanding the anti-defection law enacted in 1985. In 1979, George Fernandes valiantly defended Prime Minister Morarji Desai in Parliament, only to join Charan Singh’s camp the next day. But this pales in significance when compared to those who have virtually made jumping parties an art. Take the case of incumbent Arunachal Pradesh chief minister Pema Khandu.

A Congress MLA, he switched loyalty twice in 2016 in three months—quitting Congress to join the People’s Party of Arunachal Pradesh and then the BJP—to give the BJP its second government in the North-East.

Naresh Agarwal, Samajwadi Party (SP) MP from Uttar Pradesh, started his innings as a Congress leader. He then floated Loktantrik Congress Party before returning to the SP. After the BSP came to power in UP in 2007, he joined the BSP. Ahead of 2012 assembly elections, he returned to the SP. BJP MP Jagdambika Pal also had stints in the Congress and Agarwal’s party.

Former Congress leader Jagdambika Pal joined the BJP ahead of 2014 Lok Sabha elections. (PTI File Photo)

Ram Temple movement figures Uma Bharti and Kalyan Singh started with the BJP and went on to float their own parties before returning to the saffron fold. There are numerous such instances.

In the run-up to the assembly elections, the BJP is facing protests from the cadre for allotting tickets to many “Gaya Lals”. About two-dozen “outsiders” figure in the BJP’s list of 149 candidates for Uttar Pradesh; 15 of 64 BJP candidates in Uttarakhand joined the party only recently. As many as 10 Congress MLAs who had launched a rebellion against chief minister Harish Rawat have got BJP tickets.

Ramesh Tomar, a four-time MP and BJP candidate from Dhaulana in Uttar Pradesh, was the Congress candidate from Gautam Buddha Nagar Lok Sabha seat. He also had a stint in the Samajwadi Party.

The list of political turncoats is long but it’s set to get longer with all parties wooing them with tickets and other rewards.