With the 2019 general elections having come to an end, giving the Narendra Modi-led Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) a landslide victory, it is now worth looking back at the ‘opportunistic’ politicians who changed sides in the run up to the elections, most likely fearing ‘criminal proceedings’. According to an Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) report, 40% BJP candidates were facing criminal charges, including crimes against women and murder. Also, one cannot forget how industrialists like Vijay Mallya and Nirav Modi easily fled the country after indulging in scams worth thousand crores.
Now we have come up with a list of politicians who left their decades-old connection with other parties and switched to BJP either before the elections or after. Interestingly, these politicians are facing some severe criminal charges and were even accused of corruption by their own party.
So, here is a list of the ‘party hopper’ politicians who switched sides in the fight for power which may even help save themselves from any legal action:
1. Y.S. Chowdary (TDP → BJP)
Just a week ago, Telugu Desam Party (TDP) Rajya Sabha (RS) MP Y.S. Chowdary joined the BJP. He was a cabinet minister from TDP in the first innings of Narendra Modi and his appointment was defended by the then Finance Minister, Arun Jaitley. Chowdary is the chairman of Sujana group of companies and he along with his multiple companies are among the biggest bank defaulters and are under probe by several investigation agencies. Currently, he is being probed by the CBI in a set of three FIRs which allege that electrical equipment manufacturer Best and Crompton Engineering Projects Limited (BCEPL), which the CBI claims is linked to Chowdary, fraudulently obtained loans of over Rs 360 crore from a consortium of banks and then defaulted.
2. C.M. Ramesh (TDP → BJP)
Along with Y.S.Chowdary, TDP RS MP and industrialist C.M. Ramesh also joined the BJP. In October last year, an Income Tax (IT) probe found suspicious transactions to the tune of about Rs 100 crore in a company associated with Ramesh. According to the I-T, the company, Rithwik Projects Pvt Ltd (RPPL), had allegedly siphoned Rs 74 crore through untraceable transactions, while bills of Rs 25 crore were found to be “dubious.” His name also came up during the tussle in the CBI between then Director Alok Verma and Special Director Rakesh Asthana, where Ramesh was accused of influencing the cases by the prime witness Sana Sathish Babu, on whose statement Verma had registered a case of corruption against Asthana. Interestingly, Chowdhary and Ramesh were named “Andhra Mallyas” by BJP MP and spokesperson G V L Narasimha Rao.
3. Arjun Singh (TMC → BJP)
On March 14, Arjun Singh former Trinamool Congress (TMC) leader joined the BJP after he was allegedly denied a ticket for the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. Notably, Singh has several criminal cases against him, which he claimed to be motivated by political vindictiveness. On May 22, the Supreme Court (SC) stayed the arrest of Singh till May 28.
4. Baijayant Jay Panda (BJD → BJP)
Veteran Biju Janata Dal leader (BJD) Baijayant Jay Panda quit BJD and joined BJP in March 2014. He was expelled from BJD last year for ‘anti-party’ activities after which he quit. Interestingly, he and his wife were accused of money laundering and violation of the Foreign Exchange Management Act just a month before he switched to BJP.
5. Mukul Roy (TMC → BJP)
Mukul Roy, a veteran TMC leader, switched to BJP in 2017 after the differences between him and Mamata Banerjee widened. Notably, before he joined the BJP, he was questioned by the CBI for 9 hours in the Saradha Chit Fund Scam. Just a few months back, he was accused of involvement in the murder of TMC’s Krishnaganj MLA Satyajit Biswas. However, the High Court had granted him bail.
6. Parshottam Sabariya (INC → BJP)
On March 8, Dhrangadhra Congress MLA from Gujarat Parshottam Sabariya quit Congress and joined BJP. Interestingly, he was arrested in October last year for allegedly demanding and accepting a bribe from persons accused in an irrigation scam in Morbi district in return for not raising the issue in the Assembly and with the state government. He was later released on bail.
Can we then conclude that if a politician wishes to save himself/herself from any legal action, s/he can hide under the arms of BJP leaders? May be!