Certain things never die in politics. Changing loyalties is one such syndrome which remains unchanged in politics. In political terminology such opportunists are known as turncoats as well. Come elections, turncoats take the centre-stage. As the state is in the thick of parliamentary elections, changing loyalties and parties has turned into huge political business. It is season of Aaya Rams and Gaya Rams. It is rather flavor of the season. Party hoppers who seek greener pastures when their prospects in their parent organisation appear bleak are jumping from one party to another. Several parties have been hit hard by deserters much to the delight of an upbeat National Conference. People’s Democratic Party (PDP) has faced the most desertions. More than a dozen senior leaders and former ministers have walked out of the party over the past some time to join other parties. The PDP is presently the most unpopular party in the valley. PDP’s tie-up with the BJP and mishandling of situation which arose in the wake of Burhan Wani’s killing in July 2016 and Mahbooba Mufti’s disgraceful fall to the political maneuvering of the BJP has dealt crushing blow to the PDP. The party is little tipped as voter-favorite, at least for now, in the ongoing parliamentary and coming assembly elections. The political turncoats took it an opportunity to bid adieu to the party. Most of them have joined National Conference. Former ministers Basharat Bukhari and Peer Mohammad Hussain were the first to set the trend for defection in the PDP. The duo, once considered among the top Mufti coteries, has joined the National Conference. Dozens other middle-rung leaders and functionaries also left the party to protect and promote their political future. National Conference is deemed as the natural beneficiary of the PDP fall. Many a bureaucrats, judges, lawyers and former police officers too have left their jobs to try their future in politics by joining the National Conference. Former IAS officer Farooq Ahmad Shah, SSP (rtd) Riyaz Bedar, Justice (rtd) Hasnain Masoodi, Abdus Salam Bajad (former Director Doordarshan)Tauqeer Ahmad (former judge) and many other people have joined the National Conference over the past some period. PDP has also lost former finance minister Altaf Bukhari (who was expelled from the party for anti party activities” and former minister Javed Mustafa Mir as well. Both Bukhari and Mir have not joined any party as yet. It is reported that Altaf Bukhari might launch his own party. PDP’s intellectual face Haseeb Drabu is already out. He was unceremoniously sacked as the finance minister. He later resigned from the party, and is believed to have left the politics permanently.
The election-time desertion by political activists and leaders is general phenomenon in democratic societies because democracies do not promote autocracy. Every individual has freedom to choose his or her party. No such society or system can put fetters on the free movement of its members. But at times it becomes sheer unprincipled political opportunism. The most bizarre thing about this kind of political defection is that it is not ideology or principles that prompt political activists for defection. It is rather personal bargaining or advantage that drives people out of parties. Politicians and leaders who till other scoffed at opposite parties and leaders now join the very parties without any sense of shame. Who used to call BJP as communal and mother of all evils now see pride in joining the party.
The same is true about other leaders and activists who are joining PDP, Congress or National Conference. These are the people without character and conscience. It is time for political parties to reassess and rethink their strategy before opening gates of their parties to people of no-consequence. A party is not known by the jumble it represents but by the quality it produces. The experience with Kashmir political parties is quite reverse in this regard.