Be it legislators from Gujarat ahead of the Rajya Sabha elections or, currently, rebel MLAs of the AIADMK, Karnataka seems to be the hotspot for resort politics. The phenomenon has been normalized to such an extent that it rarely draws criticism anymore. The herding of legislators ahead of key political developments has become the new normal and Karnataka, the new tourism spot for resort politics.
For close to a week now, Tamil Nadu MLAs of the AIADMK who have pledged their support to TTV Dinakaran have been herded at a resort in Kodagu of Karnataka. A month ago, Congress MLAs from Gujarat were lodged at a resort in the outskirts of Bengaluru. In both cases, leaders of the political parties claimed that they were "protecting their MLAs from horse trading". "Secure", "safe", "protected" etc were the words that MLAs who had been herded chose to use to explain their experience of being lodged in resorts of Karnataka.
Just a year ago, Congress ensured that JD(S) corporators were packed off to a resort away from Bengaluru soon after the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike elections results were announced. Despite the BJP emerging as the single largest party, the Congress and JD(S) chose to form a coalition ruling in the BBMP.
The phenomenon of report politics is nothing new to Karnataka irrespective of whether parties and politicians are in-house or from other states. In 1984, the then Chief Minister of erstwhile Andhra Pradesh, N T Rama Rao, kept his flock together for a whole month in a resort in Devanahalli, of course with the help of then Karnataka Chief Minister, Ramakrishna Hegde. In 2002, then Maharashtra Chief Minister and Congress leader Vilasrao Deshmukh herded his legislators to Bengaluru. In both cases, trust vote was the challenge.
Karnataka in 2004 and 2008, saw blatant resort politics. in 2004, the BJP won 90 seats out of 224 but the Congress with 65 seats parlayed with JD(S) for the support of its 58 members forming a coalition government. In 2008, however, the JD(S) jumped to support BJP, once again opening up the pandora's box of resort politics making way for the infamous 'operation Kamala'.
The trend of resort politics has been slammed by analysts for undermining democracy and transparent election process. As more and more such incidents take place, resort politics is being normalized. At times, to such an extent, that there is no outrage anymore. Increasingly, Congress-ruled Karnataka is turning a "safe haven" for those politicians accusing the BJP of victimising them.