Defection in the Indian Political System
Chapter 1: Understanding the problem of defection in Indian Politics.
“Democracy and Free and Fair Election are inseparable twins. There is almost an inseparable umbilical cord joining them. In a democracy the little man - voter, has overwhelming importance and cannot be hijacked from the course of free and fair elections. His freedom to elect a candidate of his choice is the foundation of a free and fair election. But after getting elected, if the elected candidate deviates from the course of fairness and purity and becomes a “Purchasable Commodity” he not only betrays the electorate, but also pollutes the pure stream of democracy.”1 Political leaders, after elections, tend to see politics only in terms of short-term interests and, therefore, unconstrained by party ideology change sides quite often, resulting in a new kind of political culture. The frequent changing of coalition partners and the formation of new alliances have thus resulted in destroying the moral fabric of the society. These men and women who get into positions of power and authority transgress the limits that underlie the ethics of representation, which is very important in the functioning of representative democracy.2
Defection implies an elected representative leaves his/her affiliated party and joins another party. It played an important role in the formation and fall of governments. It is now banned by the Anti-Defection law.3 In politics, a defector is a person who gives up allegiance to one state in exchange for allegiance to another, in a way which is considered illegitimate by the first state. More broadly,
Available on: http://www.lawteacher.net/constitutional-law/essays/constitutional-design-of-disqualification-ofmembers.php(Last visited on October 20, 2013). 2 B. Venkatesh Kumar, “ Anti-Defection Law: Welcome Reforms”,Economic and Political Weekly, Vol. 38, No. 19 (May 10-16, 2003), pp. 1837-1838. 3 Available on: http://wiki.answers.com/Q/What_is_meant_by_defection_in_politics(Last visited on October 19, 2013).
in turn. The amendment echoed the abysmal political development in its Statement of Objects and Reasons stating: “The evil of political defections has been a matter of national concern. the country saw the introduction of a new jargon of “Aaya Ram Gaya Ram” in political parlance. There have been splits and formations of breakaway groups from time to time.”5
Meaning of Political Defection
Literally the word „defection‟ denotes „abandonment‟ „desertion‟ or running away from a party cause. defections and „dal badal' as it is colloquially known. it is likely to undermine the very foundations of our democracy and the principles which sustain it.4 The Indian Parliament and its various State Assemblies have. The introduction of this jargon was heralded by a certain Haryana state legislator Gaya Lal. With this object. This.reference. there were rampant defections by members of India's parliament and state assemblies in order to save or bring down governments. as of allegiance or duty.com/browse/defection(Last visited on October 20. If it is not combated. led to discourse amongst different political groups and parties in order to prevent this undesirable trend in politics. This Bill is meant for outlawing defection and fulfilling the above assurance.it involves abandoning a person. The Politics of musical chairs. in the past 38 years. religion etc. Opposition leaders expounded the proposal that Anti-Defective Legislative measures were imperative in putting an end to this quandary. Supra note 3. cause or doctrine to which one is bound by some tie. witnessed many changes of allegiance. an assurance was given in the address by the President to Parliament that the government intended to introduce in the current session of Parliament an anti-defection Bill.
. the Politics of opportunism change of party or group shifting of loyalty or all evince from one party or grow up to another. its ramificsion include many situation like crossing or changing of floors. During this period. In the mid-sixties. However. who changed parties three times in the course of one day. Repudiation of the label under which a legislator successfully control his election having a party and then
Available on: http://dictionary. it was under the government of Rajiv Gandhi that the promulgation of the Tenth Schedule introduced by the Constitution (Fifty-Second Amendment) Act 1985 occurred which made provisions as to the disqualification of members on the grounds of defection. 2013). In politics.
Temptation of power also is a cause for defection.Monetary consideration is a dominant-cause for defection. Kashyap. 4. Vol.Defectors fall prey to pressures of several pressure groups.. Politics has become part and parcel of day to day life of common man more specifically life patterns of politicians.PP 11-12. The causes changes in day to day practice however some causes can be laid down as under.“Cast factor is dominant in defection. They earn and earn at the cost of their supporters and general public. Politicians of all parties join together to form their own separate class. because they adopt defection politics.” 3. They made partners in this profitable Business. 1. There is profit and loss in business while there are only profit in politics for certain politicians.
Subhash C. There are in numerable causes for defection. 10. The Politics of Defection: The Changing Contours of the Political Power Structure in State Politics in India.Change in political ideology causes defection (change of party) 2. They are never put to loss. Politics has become a lucrative business for them. There has become a class of politicians. There are several motivations which are responsible for defections. 1970).coming back to its fold etc. office or even inner satisfaction of throwing out of office those who were opposed to him or a go office those who were opposed to him or a group of persons. Asian Survey. “unless otherwise stated the term „defection‟ should be understood to mean any change of political label and should inclined all classes such as (i) that of leaving a particular party after being elected as a legislator on its ticket and joining another party (ii) (iii) of resigning from the party but remaining independent thereafter of Joining a particular political party being elected as an independent”6
In short thus we can sum up that political defection covers almost every case in which the legislator has changed his party label and Joined either government or the opposition with the motive of some sort of personal gain that may be in form name fame. 3 (Mar. 5. legislators and members of parliament.
Causes of Defections:
There are several causes which made defections among political parties. No.
6. “During this period 148 party and four independent members here also defected”9 defection led to political instability the emergence of unstable coalitions in the states.. B. 15 Kyshap S.op.. the formation of minority governments in the states.When personal become dominant in a party the other members defect to oppose the leader‟s domination. 7. “During this period of 3 years as many as 323 independent legislators defected in the state legislatures.Protection from facing court cases of enquires against opponents‟ causes defection.cit. 2011. ISSN0974-2832 RNI-RAJBIL 2009/29954.Corruption also is a big cause for defection. delays in decision making. 37. 8.10
Hans Raj. P.”8 The parliament was also not fres defections. Before1967 there was no serious problem of political defections but after the fourth general elections in 1967 the problem become acute and thus many state governments survived and thrown out of power because of defections.When political party become weak or allow opportunists These are major causes of defection. DEFECTION POLITICS IN INDIA. International Referred Research Journal. 10.Offer of posts is an important cause for defection. 9. April.7
Impact of defections on Indian politics:
There are various causes of political defection. p.III *ISSUE-27
.VoL. 9 Ministry affairs Report 1968 10 Kazi Z.. increase in political corruption and devaluation of moral values etc.C. Contemparary Problems of Indian polity.
Another Haryana legislator. Gaya Lal. Congress lost majority in eight and failed to form the government in seven. This law amended the Constitution and added the Tenth Schedule to the same.Chapter 2: The anti-defection law made by India to curb the problem of defection. over the years several unanticipated consequences have come to the fore. Within a brief span of 4 years (1967-71).
. Thus began the era of common minimum programmes and coalition governments. The anti-defection law was passed in 1985. This was accompanied with another development – the phenomenon of large scale political migrations. Though it has the advantage of providing stability to governments and ensuring loyalty to party manifestos. 2013).11 Haryana was the first State where a Congress ministry was toppled. This anti-defection law has regulated parliamentary behavior for over 25 years now. This brings us to the question – Is the antidefection law indispensable? Is defection peculiar to India? If not. The now well know terms „Aya Ram‟ and „Gaya Ram‟ that are often used to describe political turncoats owe inspiration to him. Thirty-two governments collapsed and 212 defectors were rewarded with ministerial positions. it reduces the accountability of the government to Parliament and curbs dissent against party policies. there were 142 defections in Parliament and 1969 defections in State Assemblies across the country. Haryana thus became the first State to reward a defector with Chief Ministership. The Bhagwat Dayal ministry was defeated in the Assembly when its nominee for speakership lost out to another candidate.prsindia. defected thrice within a fortnight. entered into an alliance with the opposition and formed a new government under the Chief Ministership of Rao Birender Singh (also a Congress defector). how do other countries handle similar situations?
Available on: http://www. Congress dissidents defected to form a new party called the Haryana Congress. Of the 16 States that went to polls in 1967.org/theprsblog/?p=778(Last visited on October 20. The need for an antidefection law was first felt in the late 1960s.
Law was framed in 1985 with the specific intent of „combating the evil of political defections‟.
his abstention from voting should not be condoned by his party or the authorised person within 15 days of such incident. votes or abstains from voting in the House contrary to any direction issued by the political party to which he belongs or by any person or authority authorised by it in this behalf. Australian Parliament too has had its share of defections. or authority and such voting or abstention has not been condoned by such political party.It is interesting to note that many advanced democracies face similar problems but haven‟t enacted any such laws to regulate legislators. Neither Macdonald nor any of his three cabinet colleagues who defected with him resigned their seats in the House of Commons to seek a fresh mandate. As a pre-condition for his disqualification. in 1931. India might have its peculiar circumstances that merit different policies. Prominent cases in UK politics include the defection of Ramsay Macdonald. Legislators have often shifted loyalties and governments have been formed and toppled in quick succession. the prior permission of such political party.13
Ibid. In the US too. or 2. the very fact that some other democracies can function without such a law should get us thinking.12 What are the grounds for disqualification under the Anti-Defection Laws under Articles 102 (2) and 191 (2) of Indian Constitution? The Tenth Schedule provides in paragraph 2 (1) that a Member of Parliament or state legislature belonging to any political party shall be disqualified for continuing as such member if he 1. Congressmen often vote against the party programme on important issues without actually defecting from the party. He defected from his party following disagreements on policy responses to the economic crisis. leads to the restraint of party debate and dissent.
. the first Labour Prime Minister. without obtaining. person. in either case. has voluntarily given up his membership of such political party. person or authority within 15 days from the date of such voting or. But.
The opponents of this legislative move argued along the lines that the fundamental feature of an open and democratic society lies in the basic freedoms of association. Following in the spirit of the aforementioned argument. As a consequence. 15 1994 AIR 1558. In a case such as this. 1994 SCR (1) 754. in Mayawati v. then the forum of the Parliament lies fallow. The Supreme Court. However. breaking away with the support of one-third of the members of the party was not difficult and defections remained unchecked. Essentially the intended effect of paragraph 3 became . made an exception in the case of defection of members on the ground of split in the party to which they belonged.don't leave in single files. This provision was also criticised on the ground that it allowed bulk defections while declaring individual defections as illegal. form a separate group and give up membership of such party. leave in rows. demands were made from various quarters for strengthening the anti-defection law so as to achieve the desired result.com/news/antidefection-law/339606/(Last visited on October 21. went on to add “The provisions are salutary and are intended to strengthen the fabric of Indian Parliamentary democracy by curbing unprincipled and unethical political defections” Paragraph 3. They occurred more because members in languishing parties wanted Ministership or new parties. 2013). The Supreme Court justified the legislature's position. the presumption is that it is caused by dissent which is to be valued while the defection is motivated by personal gain which is an evil to be prevented. or if they anticipated lack of support in the next election.
. (1998) 7 SCC 517. these splits became synonymous with the notion of personal ambitions. Where smaller parties were concerned. The very right to vote is implicit in this and if these votes cannot be altered by dispute or dissent.
Available on: http://www. holding that in case of split in a party. The case of Ravi Naik v Union of India15 drives a classic example of defection in a smaller party. in truth. In some instances. opinion and expression. the ruling party had marginal majority and other parties hoped to form government if their number swells through defection. the disqualification from the membership of the House vide paragraph 2 (1) does not apply. Markandeya Chand14. in the original Schedule.indianexpress. A split occurs when a member or group of members of a party which are not less than one-third of the total members of such party in the lower House split.
Karnataka and others and also the Houses of the Parliament. In pursuance of this power. a 'defection' by one-third of the elected members of a political party was considered a 'merger'." states the Tenth Schedule. So now at least two-thirds of the members of a party have to be in favour of a "merger" for it to have validity in the eyes of the law. 2003.16 What were the loopholes? If we go deep into the impact of this law. Bihar. Such defections were not actionable against. the states of Goa. These Houses would be bound by the rules contained in the Schedules as also the ones that have been enacted specially for them. "The merger of the original political party or a member of a House shall be deemed to have taken place if.
. and only if. the Law Commission in its report on "Reform of Electoral Laws" and the National Commission to Review the Working of the Constitution (NCRWC) all recommended the deletion of the Tenth Schedule provision regarding exemption from disqualification in case of a split. The final provision in this legislation gives the Speakers of the House to make rules for giving effect to any provision contained in the Schedule.leading to an amendment by the Constitution (Ninety First Amendment) Act 2003 to omit paragraph 3 altogether from the Tenth Schedule. both the Rajya Sabha and Lok Sabha have made rules in this regard. Maharashtra. This law has given additional dictatorial power to the political party to keep the flock together for an entire term.17 As per the 1985 Act. not less than two-thirds of the members of the legislature party concerned have agreed to such merger. bad leaders and anti-people bills proposed by the „High Command‟ in arbitrary and undemocratic manner.18
Supra note 3. it curbs the legislators‟ freedom of opposing the wrong policies. Gujarat. Kerala. Haryana. Finally the 91st Constitutional Amendment Act. The Dinesh Goswami Committee on Electoral Reforms. 18 Supra note 15. changed this. Supra note 1.
com/news/antidefection-law/339606/(Last visited on October 21. On defection of elected members of his party. What are the options before a disqualified elected member? The members so disqualified can stand for elections from any political party for a seat in the same House.
. No court has any jurisdiction. All proceedings in relation to any question on disqualification of a member of a House under this Schedule are deemed to be proceedings in Parliament or in the Legislature of a state.Under which circumstances is a split in a party not considered a 'defection'? A split in a political party will not be considered a defection if an entire political party merges with another. But this does not necessarily mean that the members so expelled lose their seats in the House. They continue to hang on to their seats as long as the Chairman or the Speaker of a House gives a final decision on their disqualification from the House after a proper enquiry on the basis of the petition filed by the party whip. He can also expel the members from the party.indianexpress. Who is the deciding authority? The decisions on questions as to disqualification on ground of defection are referred to the Chairman or the Speaker of such House. What are the powers of a party whip under the Constitution in case of a defection? The whip upholds the party directives in the House as the authorised voice of the party. if a new political party is formed by some of the elected members of one party. 2013). if he or she or other members of the party have not accepted the merger between the two parties and opted to function as a separate group from the time of such a merger. and his decision is final. But he naturally cannot get a ticket from his former party. the whip can send a petition on the alleged defection to the Chairman or the Speaker of a House for their disqualification. 19
Available on: http://www.
he denied that
. The Speaker concluded that Dr. • Shri Prabhunath Singh vs. (January 9. 2008). Dr.Recent Orders on Disqualification by the Speaker for Defection: • Shri Rajeev Ranjan Singh “Lalan” vs. (October 3. 2009). Shri Ram Swaroop Prasad. Koya defied a party whip requiring him to be present in the House and vote against the Motion of Confidence for the government. Dr.P. JD(U). Shri Prasad defied a party whip requiring him to be present in the House. and the evidence of the „illness‟ is not sufficient to conclude that he was so ill that he could not be present in the House. In his defence. He claimed he was too ill to be present in the House. Koya. Koya abstained from voting by remaining absent. P. JD(U).
The Speaker therefore held Shri Akhlaque disqualified for having voluntarily given up membership of the BSP. The case is pending in the S. and had been duly received.J. BSP. It was alleged that Shri Akhlaque joined the Samajwadi Party in a public meeting. and criticized the Congress government publicly. 2008). • The most recent case relating to anti-defection is from the Karnataka State Legislature where B.any whip was issued or served. Shri Mohammad Shahid Akhlaque. It was alleged that at this meeting. (January 27.P. Shri Kuldeep Singh. • Shri Avtar Singh Bhadana vs. The Speaker reasoned that there is no reason why news clippings and stories in the media would be untruthful. it cannot be said that Shri Prasad had no knowledge of the whip. Indian National Congress. he should go back before the electorate. A complaint was made against them and speaker disqualified them from their membership. • Shri Rajesh Verma vs. The Speaker held that a person getting elected as a candidate of a political party also gets elected because of the programs of the party.
. (September 10. and had demanded the dismissal of the government in Haryana. The Speaker held that in view of the fact that there is evidence to show that the whip had been delivered to Shri Prasad‟s house.C.J.20
Supra note 1. is the ruling party and 14 members of B. Shri Akhlaque had said that at heart. 2008). he had always been a member of the SP. If the person leaves the party.P. The INC alleged that Shri Bishnoi often dissented from. and 5 independent members sent a letter of discontent against the Chief Minister.
In other words except on voting concerning a finance bill. just to ensure that the party machinery does not misuse this power either. any reforms in the working of the anti-defection law would be meaning-less without a thorough analysis of the composition. (2) the aging leadership. in fact. more needs to be done. This recent decision of the government to curb the menace of defection and bring about an amendment to curb the size of the ministry. functioning and role perception of political parties in present day politics. At the moment any dis-agreement with the party organisation and a vote against party directive on any issue can subject a legislator to disqualification under the 10th Schedule.
Actually. The whip should only be applicable for any matter where the life of the government is in danger and not to all voting as at present under the 10th Schedule. structure. (4) the low level of popular involvement in the membership. for example. or confidence motion or no-confidence motion.21 To sum up.Chapter 3: Suggestions to overcome from the problem of the defection. several serious lacunae. the reasons for the present-day phenomenon of large-scale political defections are: (1) the history and nature of political parties in India. The anti-defection law has. The question of defection will then only arise when a legislator actually changes allegiance or defies party directives on critical issues of affecting its life. augurs well for the functioning of Indian democracy. bossism and the growth of establishments with vested interests in the status quo in almost all the parties. which threaten to vitiate the democratic fabric of our polity. and particularly the Indian National Congress. loc.
. there can be no question of any principles being involved in either defecting from or staying with a party.defections when. (3) the lack of ideological orientation and polarization among the parties. objects and activities of political parties and the virtual indifference of the people to acts of defection by their representatives. Venkatesh Kumar. If parties are not based on any principles. In the same vein. Political parties across the board need to move beyond partisan politics and make a conscious effort to make electoral politics vibrant and democratic. However. party tickets are denied to members of a dissident
B. (5) infighting and factionalism in the parties which lead to group. though belated and piecemeal. This is not what should happen.cit. Parties as they are and as they operate today hardly deserve any protection against defection by their members. what constitutes defection should be re-defined. ideologies or programmes and if they are not democratically run. whip should not apply from the point of view of anti-defection law.
(3) using the pressure of public opinion. and (11) the unwillingness of the Congress party to share power and enter into workable coalitions with like-minded parties. (7) disqualifying defectors from membership in the legislature and/or contesting elections. "On a Presidential System for India-Some Random Thoughts and Considerations. some rethinking on the operation of India's Constitution may be necessary. however. (6) the marginal and unstable majorities in state legislative assemblies after the 1967 Elections and the prospect that non-Congress parties would be in position to capture power. several suggestions have been made by scholars. Ideals of freedom and democracy given to them by the people of India require constant vigilance. 195-208. academic bodies and the All-Party Chavan Committee on Defections. see Subhash C.
. (4) granting the chief ministers the power to dissolve the legislature. (10) the existence of powerful lobbies and pressure groups that command loyalties that are far more intense than loyalties to political parties." Journal of Political Studies. it is for the people to assert themselves. (10) limiting the size of ministries. op. (6) debarring defectors from appointment as ministers. (8) recognition or registration of parties and list system of voting. as we have shown elsewhere. en. (9) the tremendous gap between the emoluments. (2) greater emphasis by the parties on the choice of candidates for election. For a full discussion of this suggestion. Kashyap. To tackle the problem of large-scale unprincipled defections. These include: (1) the evolution of a code of conduct by the political parties. most of these suggestions would neither be feasible legally and constitutionally nor acceptable politically. they would have only a minimal impact due to the inbuilt resistance of the parliamentary system as it operates in the context of the Indian political culture.22 In order to cater to the needs of political stability consistent with the country's democratic ethos.. However. 1:1. C. And. Kashyap. status and the like-or denial of the same. even if they were otherwise acceptable.lightened public opinion and a competent leadership endowed with integrity and an understanding of the sophisticated
S. (7) conflict of personalities and temperamental incompatibilities between a legislator and his party bosses. (9) provision for recall.23 In the ultimate analysis. (8) the temptations of office-money. What is required is merely a reinterpretation and a desire to work it anew. p.cit. status and other benefits attached to the office of a minister and that of an ordinary legislator. (5) elimination of independents.faction.
The Institute of Constitutional and Parliamentary Studies has launched several schemes.
.operational mechanics of the system. (2) the Orientation Seminars for Legislators started in 1968 on the model of the Seminars for Freshmen Congressmen run by APSA and the Brookings Institute. It is not generally realized that any worthwhile democratic experiment in order to be successful needs a good deal of investment in political education. Washington.. Congressional Fellowship Program of the American Political Science Association.S. (1) the Parliamentary Fellowship Program started early in 1967 and largely patterned on the U. D. and (3) Moot Parliaments in universities and colleges initiated in 1968. It is unfortunate that little attention is being paid to this aspect of politics and an organized effort in this direction is still to be made. The political parties which should have undertaken this task have proven to be largely indifferent. viz..C.
This has rendered the independents as the only legislators who can afford to vote without the threat of disqualification. Only then can a citizen of a democracy such as India vote for who he truly wants to hold accountable.25 Anti-defection law when it was passed. Most political activity that takes place in India today transpires within the Tenth Schedule. The most crucial aspect that needs to be elevated in the Tenth Schedule is the right of an individual Member of Parliament to vote freely. This has had several implications including disintegration of parties due to reluctance towards involvement in a deeper discourse and the lack of tolerance to coexistence with dissent. It is high time that a watchdog should be provided to our Parliament and there is a need for our constitutional pundits to revisit the issue to combat the menace of corruption and defection which has eroded the values of democracy. It may be called a defective manual. The concept of party loyalty has weakened and „real politics' has become a spate of splits and defections in pursuit of selfish gains.
. or dissent in full and split away to avoid the risk of being disqualified.CONCLUSION
The role of politics under the constitutional set up in India has undergone many chapters.one must either buy the whole package offered by a political leader. it aimed at bringing down the political defect but due to ever increasing political dishonesty and corruption this law never evolved properly and now a question have arose that „whether achieving the goals of this law a reality or a myth?‟ Politicians found loopholes in this law and used it for their own benefit. the party leadership's requirements are of prime concern during a vote. It has ceased to matter what an MP as an individual thinks. implicit in the art of compliance.26
Supra note 3. Supra note 1. without the risk of disqualification from the his or her party. The anti-defection law renders a key pillar of our version of democracy futile .
co. http://www. No. Kashyap. “ Anti-Defection Law: Welcome Reforms”.. 4.zw/articles/2013/09/21/defections-normal-in-politics 4. http://www. DEFECTION POLITICS IN INDIA. Vol. http://www.lawteacher. 1970). http://www.dailynews. 3 (Mar. http://www. 2011. 19 (May 10-16.VoL. http://www. 3. 10. Subhash C.pdf
.prsindia. http://wiki.net/article1230. 38.Economic and Political Weekly.mainstreamweekly. Contemparary Problems of Indian polity. International Referred Research Journal. 6.prsindia. ISSUE-27.php 6.html 8.org/uploads/media/Note%20on%20Anti-Defection. 2.net/constitutional-law/essays/constitutional-design-ofdisqualification-of-members. 3.reference. The Politics of Defection: The Changing Contours of the Political Power Structure in State Politics in India. 2003). 5. Subhash C. Venkatesh Kumar. Vol.org/theprsblog/?p=778 9. 1968. April. "On a Presidential System for India-Some Random Thoughts and Considerations.in/anti-defection-law 7." Journal of Political Studies.com/Q/What_is_meant_by_defection_in_politics. Ministry affairs Report. 1:1.answers.com/browse/defection 2..III. B.
Websites Referred: 1. No. Kazi Z. Hans Raj.indianexpress.BIBLIOGRAPHY
Books referred: 1.com/news/antidefection-law/339606/ 5. B. Kashyap.legalindia. Asian Survey. http://dictionary. http://www.