Hop, Skip and Jump

Party-switching, not unheard of before elections, has acquired a particularly spicy flavour this season, with the National Conference losing two prominent men to its rival within days. The rather porous borders between political parties routinely accommodate trickles and torrents at the grassroots level, lately as batches of panches and sarpanches, but this goes largely unnoticed, has only limited impact, and is often reversed with time-honoured tactics. But still, in a different era, loyalty shifts of the kind the Valley has witnessed in the past days would have been capable of setting off waves of excited activity, not the least in the form of street denunciations of deserters on the one hand, and victory celebrations of homecoming on the other.

Justified as the wag would be to remark that party-hopping by heavy-weights at least makes news of an otherwise dreary pre-poll climate, and perhaps also helps inch atmospheric, if not political, temperatures up by small fractions, the question of commitment to party outlook and philosophy still goes abegging. Neglect, slight, step-motherly (!) treatment, and so on and so forth, the staple of routine dis-allegiance documents, are usually trotted out towards the end of a party’s, or formation’s, stint in power, and rarely surface when it has still some time left in the saddle. And it helps immensely if the rider is expected to be unhorsed by a changing of the winds, or by his own ineptitude.

The ultimate political question, in one case, would not be a natural human inclination to come out on the winning side as much as an insurance policy against unwanted and unwelcome scrutiny of movable and immovable qualifications notched up in the course of distinguished lok seva. Of this, there has been quite a vivid sample recently, when the camp where most political transmigrants seem to be headed these days had to dump one of its star performers for his sins of commission during his days in the opponent’s pavilion.

Border porosity, a laudable objective between geo-political entities, has far less noble genesis in political parties, howsoever reasonably transmigrants state their case. If the electorally-inclined kind seem to be more severely afflicted, it could just be a question of the size of the pie on the table. The poor species, nevertheless, is hamstrung by very limited options, unlike counterparts elsewhere, who, true to their creed, brook no boundaries and strike out lone rangers – in unchart(er)ed waters.