Bengaluru to Bihar: 11 times parties whisked away lawmakers to prevent poaching
The Congress last week flew most of its Gujarat MLAs out of the state and housed them at a resort on the outskirts of Bengaluru.Updated: Aug 02, 2017, 14:28 IST
The Congress last week flew most of its Gujarat MLAs out of the state and housed them at a resort on the outskirts of Bengaluru, in an apparent attempt to keep the flock together after a string of resignations rocked the party.
Six Congress MLAs have resigned from the party last week, reducing the party’s strength in the Gujarat assembly to 51 ahead of the August 8 Rajya Sabha election. Senior Congress leader Ahmed Patel is vying for one of the three RS seats from Gujarat.
For the 42 legislators, life doesn’t seem too hard. Reluctant to leave anything to chance and to avoid poaching by rival BJP, the party leadership decided to arrange for a Gujarati chef for the legislators’ culinary comfort at the ‘Eagleton - The Golf Village’. A birthday party was also held for one of the MLA’s sons and an orientation course was organised for them.
But this isn’t the first time such a political drama is unfolding. Here’s a look at times when parties have whisked away their MLAs from poaching:
2017, Tamil Nadu: J Jayalalithaa’s death sparked a power tussle and split AIADMK between the late Tamil Nadu CM’s aide O Panneerselvam and her long-time friend and confidante VK Sasikala. More than a hundred AIADMK legislators were taken to retreat in February to stop them from running away to the rival camp, confining them to a four-star luxury resort with guards that kept the media out.
2016, Uttarakhand: Both the Congress and BJP sent their legislators to resorts before a crucial trust vote in the Uttarakhand assembly (on Supreme Court’s direction) to prevent poaching. The Congress won the vote.
2016, Karnataka: The Karnataka Congress reportedly kept independent legislators in a hotel in Mumbai to prevent poaching by rival BJP before the Rajya Sabha polls. Facing criticism, the legislators were allowed to come back.
2007, Arunachal Pradesh: A group of 20 legislators were kept in a resort in Gurgaon reportedly by Dorjee Khandu, who had engineered a rebellion against then chief minister Gegong Apang, to become CM.
2005, Jharkhand: To prevent the Arjun Munda government from falling, the BJP ferried about half a dozen independent legislators to a resort in Rajasthan. A year later, these legislators supported Madhu Koda, who formed the government with the help of the Congress and the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD).
2005, Bihar: A group of Lok Janshakti Party MLAs were kept in a Jamsedhpur (Jharkhand) hotel to help Janata Dal (United)-BJP combine form a non-RJD government. The BJP in Jharkhand provided logistical support to the MLAs.
2002, Uttar Pradesh: The Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) kept its legislators in a secret location to allegedly prevent poaching by the Samajwadi Party (SP), which had won the most number of seats. SP’s Mulayam Singh was short of about 50 legislators in a house of 403 and was looking to break the rival BSP. Keeping the legislators confined helped the BSP to form the government with the BJP.
2000, Bihar: The Congress and RJD kept their MLAs from south Bihar (present day Jharkhand) in a Patna hotel to prevent Nitish Kumar from luring them. Kumar became CM for seven days when the RJD failed to submit its list of supporters within the stipulated time but lost votes on floor of the house.
1998, Uttar Pradesh: The BJP flew its legislators in a chartered plane to Delhi and kept them at a secret location to prevent Loktantrik Congress of Jagdambika Pal from poaching them after the Kalyan Singh government was dismissed by Governor Romesh Bhandari. Pal replaced Singh and became CM for 48 hours. Singh won the floor test and became CM again.
1988, Tamil Nadu: A month after sitting chief minister MG Ramachandran died in December 1987, the war of succession between Jayalalithaa and Janaki Ramachandran, his wife, saw legislators of two factions holed up in resorts.
The faction backing Janaki proved majority before the Governor, which Jayalalithaa termed “unconstitutional”.
On the floor of the assembly, legislators from the Janaki faction assaulted MLAs from the Jaya faction. The man who allowed it to happen was then speaker, PH Pandian -- the same AIADMK leader who is now supporting OPS and said Jaya might have been murdered.
Janaki was elected as CM, but her government was dismissed after 24 days by Rajiv Gandhi, who described the assembly events as a “slur on democracy”.
President’s rule was imposed and DMK won the election a year later. In 1991, Jayalalithaa won polls and became chief minister for the first time.
1984, Andhra Pradesh: Chief minister NT Rama Rao confined his loyalists in hotels in Hyderabad, Delhi and Bangalore after he was sacked by Governor Ram Lal in an Independence Day coup by his cabinet colleague Nadendla Bhaskara Rao. Lal was eventually sacked and replaced by another Congressman Shankar Dayal Sharma.
(With inputs from HT Correspondents in Chennai, New Delhi, Ranchi, Patna and Lucknow)
This article was first published in February 2017.