The Aya Rams and Gaya Rams in Indian politics

Amalendu Upadhyaya
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By Justice Markandey Katju

The term ‘Aya Ram Gaya Ram’ was coined after Gaya Lal, a member of the Haryana State Assembly in India changed parties thrice within a fortnight after the state assembly elections in 1967, the last defection being within 9 hours of his previous defection.

The same phenomenon has often been witnessed ever since, and the impression which has been created is that Indian politicians, of all parties, have really no principles. They only see which way the political wind is blowing, like the French politician Talleyrand, and like weathercocks, will change their political allegiance accordingly.

The most blatant and brazen example was what the then Chief Minister of Haryana, Bhajan Lal, did in 1980. Bhajan Lal was originally in Congress, but in 1977 joined the newly created Janta Party and became the Chief Minister. At that time the Central Govt was under the Janta Party. But when in 1980 after the parliamentary elections the Congress under Indira Gandhi came back to power in the centre, Bhajan Lal realised that his govt may be dismissed and President’s rule imposed in Haryana. Hence he defected to Congress along with almost all his MLAs, thus remaining the Chief Minister.

Two latest instances of this are of Mukul Roy and Jitin Prasad.

The former was originally in the Congress Party, who later crossed over to Mamata Banerjee’s Trinamul Congress ( TMC ) when the party was formed in West Bengal in 1998. After the victory of the Bhartiya Janta Party ( BJP ) in the 2014 parliamentary elections he left the TMC and joined the BJP in 2017, and later became its National Vice President. But when the TMC won the West Bengal State Assembly elections in 2021 ( against many predictions that the BJP would win ) by a massive majority, he has again defected and joined the TMC, being welcomed by Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee.

As regards Jitin Prasad, he was a member of the Congress Party since 2001, and was elected as a member of parliament on a Congress ticket in the 2004 and 2009 elections. He was also a Minister in the Congress Central Government. But in June 2021, seeing the poor prospects of the Congress after its massive defeats in the 2014 and 2019 parliamentary elections, he has defected to the BJP which has been in power since 2014 in the centre.

Jyotiraditya Scindia of Madhya Pradesh, and Hemant Biswa Sarma of Assam, had earlier done the same which Jitin Prasad of UP has now done, viz, defecting from the Congress and joining the BJP

Many other such examples can be given, and the impression has been created that Indian politicians are only interested in power and pelf, and care two hoots for any principle or the public welfare.

One is reminded of the Urdu couplet :

” Jeevan ka safar hai toolaani, yaan ikraani hai naadaani

  Jo shahsawar maahir hain, woh raah badalte rehte hain “


” Like’s journey is long

  Being unchanging is immaturity

 The expert horse riders

  Keep changing their paths “

(Justice Markandey Katju is former Chairman, Press Council of India and former Judge, Supreme Court of India.)


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