Telangana BJP now has a 'defections panel', and who better than Etela to head?

Etela Rajender, former Finance Minister in Telangana, will be credited as the first convener of the "defections committee".

Telangana BJP now has a defections panel, and who better than Etela to head?

Defections in politics are most common, especially in a multi-party system. Differences of opinion with colleagues, leaders, and ideologies would result in helmsmen and workers deserting their political parties, and joining the rival camps is the most common phenomenon. However, greed, the lure of lucre, power, or pelf have been the reasons too for desertions.

India has witnessed several defections, toppling of State Governments with the help of the turncoats, and political parties indulging in horse-trading (Recently Finance Minister Nirmala Seetharaman, by slip of tongue, said GST would be levied on this too) over the last 75 years. Change of guard in Maharashtra is a case in point.

While all these are commonplace in the game of political one-upmanship, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) seemed to have taken it one more step ahead by creating a portfolio within its ranks and endowing that responsibility to a party functionary.

Etela Rajender, former Finance Minister in Telangana, will be credited as the first convener of the "defections committee". The party may have christened it as "admissions committee", but essentially the formula on which it works is encouraging defections from other political parties into the BJP.

According to insiders, Etela, who was practically the No.2 in the KCR Cabinet, is finding the going so much tough that he is put at No. 11 in the Telangana BJP unit's pecking order. What a fall, for a leader who moved from "extreme left to extreme right" in search of 'saffron pastures'. Now, the call of duty of the former boss of the Telangana exchequer is to entice leaders worth their salt. And, at what cost? The party hasn't benchmarked the "stature" of those who would agree to the baits and join the BJP.

In fact, Home Minister Amit Shah had earlier been informed that several senior leaders from the TRS and the Congress would make a beeline to join the BJP, if the gates were opened. Though the party waited for long, none came forth, infuriating Shah. Now Rajender is tasked with engineering defections on a mission mode.

The BJP's national jamboree has spiralled the spirits within the leadership, for the show they put up in Hyderabad outsmarted their own expectation and imagination. That the show put up by having the Prime Minister, a galaxy of Union Ministers, a posse of Chief Ministers, and hunderds of elected representatives from across the country ended up as a 'gala event' only to fight a small regional political party – the TRS – and its chief KCR. This surely 'dwarfed' the BJP in terms of stature.

The BJP, a cadre-based political organisation that has a backward integration alma mater – the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS) -- is now looking for inorganic growth in different parts of India, by organising coups and engineering large-scale defections. It has toppled at least eight state governments during its regime at the Centre by indulging in horse-trading.

In Telangana, Raghunandan Rao and Rajender had their moorings in the TRS. The latest entrant Konda Vishweshwar Reddy too was a TRS MP from Chevella. The "defections committee" is already working overtime to create a narrative to tempt the turncoats. In the process, the BJP is spreading that strong leaders from undivided districts of Nalgonda, Adilabad, Mahbubnagar and Khammam, are "in touch" with the party.

What's unnerving for those who have grown from the ranks of the RSS is that the party is planning a no-holds-barred defection campaign from the polling booth level to the State level. Will Etela be able to accomplish the Herculean task is anybody's guess.

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