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The Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) was the biggest gainer of defections while the Congress party suffered maximum with its leaders switching sides in elections held between 2014 and 2021, an analysis by election watchdog Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) has found.

The Congress party saw 222 candidates, maximum among all parties, leaving the party to join other parties during the assembly and parliamentary elections held in this period, the findings in the report released on September 9 said.

Another 153 candidates left the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) to join a different party to contest elections during the same period, it said.

The ADR said it analysed the self-sworn affidavits of 1133 candidates and 500 MPs/MLAs, who switched parties and re-contested elections held during the Lok Sabha and Assembly elections since 2014.

The analysis is based on the affidavits submitted by the candidates prior to the elections (2014 to 2021) and by-elections conducted in the intervening period, the association said in its report.

Overall, 253, or 22 percent out of the 1133 re-contesting candidates who switched political parties joined the BJP followed by 115 or 10 percent candidates who joined the Congress and 65 or 6 percent candidates who joined the BSP, the analysis revealed.

The highest number of MPs/MLAs, 177 or 35 percent, left Congress to join another party during the elections held in this period. While 33 or 7 percent of MPs/MLAs left the BJP to join a different party to contest elections during this period.

Between 2014 and 2021, as many as 173, or 35 percent, out of 500 re-contesting MPs/MLAs who switched political parties joined the BJP followed by 61 or 12 percent MPs/MLAs who joined the Congress and 31 or 6 percent MPs/MLAs who joined the Trinamool Congress.

Clearly, the series of defections in the Congress party which began ahead of the 2014 general elections continue unabated.  President of All India Mahila Congress Sushmita Dev, who resigned last month, was the latest senior leader to leave the grand old party. Dev, a former member of parliament has joined the Trinamool Congress.

Apart from the leadership crisis at the top, the party is also facing trouble in states like Rajasthan, where former deputy chief minister Sachin Pilot rebelled against the state leadership. The party's high command has been making several attempts to placate Pilot, though

In poll-bound Punjab, the Congress, it seems has handled the situation. Cricketer-turned-politician, Navjot Singh Sidhu who had revolted against chief minister Amarinder Singh, has been made Punjab Congress president months ahead of assembly polls in the state.

In recent years, among the senior leaders who served as union ministers in the Congress government but decided to leave the party, including former External Affairs Minister in the UPA government, SM Krishna, former Union Power Minister in the UPA government Jyotiraditya Scindia and Rao Inderjit Singh, who served as Textile Minister in the UPA government.

The list of defectors includes several former Chief Ministers of the Congress such as late ND Tiwari, Narayan Rane, now a minister in PM Modi’s cabinet, and Shankersinh Vaghela.

“The ‘Aaya Ram, Gaya Ram’ syndrome and the never-ending ‘hunger for power and money has become a common practice amongst our Parliamentarians and Political parties, ADR said in its observation.

The most plausible reasons behind such defections and switching of parties, according to ADR, are the absence of value-based politics, lust for money and power, strong nexus between money and muscle, and silent/absent laws on political parties functioning, to name a few.

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