With the recent political upheaval in Madhya Pradesh, the fate of yet another state government now hinges on ‘resort politics’.
‘Resort politics’ is a reference to the many instances in Indian politics where MLAs are sent to luxury resorts, either to cause or prevent a sudden transfer of power.
Most recently, in Madhya Pradesh, several Congress MLAs, who could determine if the Kamal Nath government survives a trust vote in the Assembly, have been whisked off to Bengaluru, in the care of a BJP MLA.
Before this too, there have been several instances of state governments falling due to ‘resort politics’.
Instances of resort politics in the past
Maharashtra 2019: Several days of drama followed once the Shiv Sena broke away from the BJP and joined hands with Congress-NCP to form the government in Maharashtra in 2019. Legislators from all parties were closely guarded. On November 25, on the eve of the Supreme Court’s decision on the parties’ petition seeking a floor test in the Maharashtra Assembly, a large group of Shiv-Sena-NCP-Congress MLAs — claiming to be 162 — assembled at a Mumbai hotel in a show of strength.
Karnataka 2019: In July, the BS Yediyurappa-led BJP government defeated the Congress-JDS coalition in a trust vote. Earlier in 2018, Yediyurappa had been invited by the Governor to form the government, which only lasted for two days since he could not prove his majority. In 2019, in order to keep their MLAs in check, the Congress, JD(S) and the BJP moved their legislators to various resorts.
Tamil Nadu, 2017: Edappadi Palaniswami, who was sworn in as the chief minister of Tamil Nadu in February 2017, won the trust vote in the Assembly, where 122 MLAs voted for him, while 11 voted for O Panneerselvam. Panneerselvam had resigned from chief ministership in 2017 and accused AIADMK leader VK Sasikala of coercing him into it. Subsequently, Sasikala sent her MLAs to a resort near Chennai.
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Uttarakhand, 2016: In 2016, the BJP flew its MLAs to a hotel in Jaipur ahead of an Assembly floor test by former chief minister Harish Rawat. At the time, Congress and BJP accused each other of horse-trading, after which the Centre imposed President’s Rule in the state. However, this order was overturned by the High Court, after which the Congress government was reinstated. Subsequently, the Congress lost in the 2017 Assembly elections.
Maharashtra, 2002: In 2002, then-Chief Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh sent his MLAs to a resort in Bengaluru to prevent them from joining the Shiv Sena-BJP opposition.
Bihar, 2000: In 2000, Nitish Kumar, leader of the Janata Dal (United), was appointed chief minister for a period of seven days before he lost the trust vote. During this time, the Congress and the Rashtriya Janata Dal sent their members to a hotel in Patna, fearing defection.
Uttar Pradesh, 1998: In 1998, Congress’s Jagdambika Pal was appointed the chief minister of Uttar Pradesh for 48 hours after the Governor dismissed the BJP government led by Kalyan Singh during the 1998 Lok Sabha elections. As the floor test was pending, the BJP flew its MLAs to an isolated place, after which, Singh came back and won the confidence vote.
Gujarat, 1995: In October 1995, Keshubhai Patel lost his position as the first BJP chief minister in Gujarat to Suresh Mehta. This was a result of the ‘Khajuraho scandal’ — MLAs taken off to Khajuraho — orchestrated by Shankarsinh Vaghela with the support of over 44 MLAs. However, Mehta was displaced by Vaghela in 1996, when the latter formed the Rashtriya Janata Party and formed the government with Congress support.
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Andhra Pradesh, 1984 and 1995: In 1984, Nadendla Bhaskara Rao toppled the NTR government with the support of the Congress. At the time, then Andhra Pradesh chief minister NT Rama Rao was out of the country and in his absence, the governor installed Bhaskara Rao as the chief minister. Because of the ensuing internal conflicts, Rao sent his MLAs to Bengaluru, before they were moved to Delhi. Even so, the government collapsed and Rao was back in power within two months.
In 1995, NTR’s son-in-law N Chandrababu Naidu wanted to oust NTR from the party and sent the MLAs loyal to him to the Viceroy Hotel in Hyderabad so that he could take over the party.
Karnataka, 1983: In 1983, chief minister Ramakrishna Hegde, the leader of the Janata Party in Karnataka, had to save his government from being dissolved by Indira Gandhi. Hegde’s successive wins in the 1983 and 1985 Assembly elections in Karnataka had alarmed his rivals in the Janata Party, who also held prime ministerial ambitions. During the Assembly Trust vote, some 80 MLAs were sent to a luxury resort next to Bengaluru so they wouldn’t defect.
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