ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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The Self and the Collective in the Politics of Defection


The politics of defection that has recently occurred in the political affairs of the state of Maharashtra does form a link in the long chain of political defections that, for many years now, has been posing a challenge to the constitutional amendments that have been passed from time to time in order to curb the problem of defection. This link in the chain of defection, however, is seldom coterminous with the link bet­ween self-interest and collective interests. The latter is defined in the current crisis in Maharashtra in broader terms such as protecting the “real Hindutva” from the “unreal” one. However, the focus on the muddled link between the self- and the collective interest gets missed out while making sense of the politics of defection.

As it has been the usual case, the act of defection is constitutive of the element of guesswork and anxiety coupled with uncertainty generated by the voyage of the defected members to exciting destinations and majestic tourist resorts. The tension is quite performative as it entertains some while causing pain to others.

This tension between the self and the collective is formative in the sense that it first actively represents the creation in the form of a defector and then such a creature offers themself as the means to be deployed by those political players who have resources to achieve their set goals of putting up the favourable power configuration. This defector becomes a political means to upset the political party or the combination of parties in power. What is real is the defection and its instrumental value or price. The realist turn in politics that is ruminated over in the television and newspaper discussions does not offer us an insight into the complexity of the political affairs.

Such realist politics that is aimed at changing the power equation at the cost of causing disadvantage to the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government in favour of the suggested Hindutva solidarity, however, does not explain the muddled and deceptive relationship between self-interests and the suggested solidarity itself.

The move to defect, however, seeks to deceptively establish the overlap between self- and collective interests, that is, in the current case of the protagonists of defection, the protection of “real Hindutva.” At one level, it might suggest for public consumption or justification that defection was necessary for protecting “genuine Hindutva,” which is based on solidarity for the purpose of exclusivity. It will be naïve to ignore the truth that there is a hidden script to such a claim for collective gain in an exclusivist solidarity. While such moves try hard to suggest that self-interest is subordinated to solidarity for exclusivity or “pure Hindutva,” at the same time, it cannot hide its bare self-interest from the public gaze. A vigilant public knows that self-interest stands assured only through the collective gain that the defector may look for in their solidarity for exclusivity. It is also interesting to note that the defected members may put forward the argument for rationality according to which they would be moti­vated to defect to or collaborate with a party that can guarantee both succour and security to the self-interest of politicians rather than any solidarity for exclusivity.

In this regard, it is also equally interesting to know that self-interest for its protection takes a very subtle, in fact, a deceptive route. For example, the Dalit and the minority politicians may speak occasionally against majority communalism or the divisive politics of right-wing forces, thereby showing some inclination for solidarity with inclusivity. Such a call for normative solidarity to protect the fundamental values that are written in the Constitution, however, lacks genuineness. The commitment to communal harmony looks satisfying but only in verbal speeches and not action and hence constitutes a mere formal critique of the right-wing forces. But failing to ­mobilise the electoral votes against the right-wing parties, in consequence, does provide an advantage to the parties that undermine the need for normative solidarity. The question is: Why are these leaders less interested in mobilising the voters in favour of such a solidarity?

The leaders are disinterested in genuine solidarity because they are rational enough to know that it would not help them in protecting their self-interest. Hence, they would use the electoral support that would help them indirectly to defect to the party that controls various investigative agencies. Thus, inclusive solidarity is also available for its instrumental use by the self-interested parties and politicians alike. But the pursuit of self-interest lacks a moral justification inasmuch as it halts the collective efforts at solidarity for the protection of constitutional norms and social inclusivity.

Updated On : 16th Jul, 2022
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