हालिया राजनीतिक घटनाएं दर्शाती हैं कि मौजूदा दल बदल कानून प्रभावी साबित नहीं हो पा रहा है

According to the current rules, if two-thirds or more MLAs of one party join another party, their membership remains. Taking advantage of it, political parties are defecting.

Defection by Shiv Sena legislators has rendered the country’s anti-defection law irrelevant after the formation of a new government in Maharashtra led by rebel Shiv Sena leader Eknath Shinde that ousted Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray’s government. Taking advantage of the loopholes in this law, MPs and MLAs are constantly switching parties. After the recent incident in Maharashtra, there is talk across the country that the current law is proving weak in preventing defection. It needs to be strengthened. So that the game of wasting power like defection can be stopped.

The BJP’s role in the large-scale defections in Maharashtra has also come to the fore. Earlier BJP formed government in Karnataka and Madhya Pradesh by defection of MLAs on a large scale and toppled the governments there. After 2014 the defection game started playing a bit more. After Narendra Modi became the Prime Minister in 2014, the BJP government came to power in Arunachal Pradesh and Manipur after overthrowing the entire governments. After that, the BJP formed the government in Goa, bypassing the largest party, the Congress, despite not getting a majority.

Also Read: When will the Eknath Shinde Cabinet be expanded? New date came, Pawar raised the question

In the 2018 assembly elections, Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot won majority by inducting all 6 MLAs from BSP to the Congress. Recently in Bihar Assembly, Lalu Prasad Yadav’s party RJD converted 4 out of 5 MLAs from Asaduddin Owaisi’s All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen Party to RJD. Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao has inducted most of the Congress MLAs into his party. In Sikkim, 10 MLAs from Sikkim Democratic Party have joined BJP. There is talk that the sitting MLAs of Goa Congress can join BJP anytime.

According to the current rules, if two-thirds or more MLAs of one party join another party, their membership remains. Taking advantage of it, political parties are defecting. Even during elections there are large-scale defections by MLAs in states. Although assembly elections are due at that time, defection does not affect the health of the government.

An MP or MLA elected by the people can switch parties as per their convenience and enjoy the benefits of power. But in such a situation the voters who voted for him feel cheated. People who have won an election by voting in favor of a particular party get a big shock when they find out that the MP they won has joined their opposition party. There is a debate among the public that the incidence of defection is increasing so that the anti-defection law should be strengthened for the term for which the people’s representatives are elected. He could not defect during that term and his membership would be terminated if he did.

In October 1967, Haryana MLA Gaya Lal switched parties three times in a single day, bringing the issue into the mainstream of politics. During that period the politics of Ram Gaya Ram became very popular in the country. Finally, in 1985, when Rajiv Gandhi was Prime Minister, the 52nd Constitutional Amendment passed the Anti-Defection Act and added it to the Tenth Schedule of the Constitution. The main objective of this Act was to end the evil practice of defection in Indian politics.

Also Read: ‘People are joining Shiv Sena’, says Ramdas Athawale – Eknath Shinde’s faction is gaining momentum

A public representative can be disqualified under this Act. A period of six months if an elected member voluntarily leaves the membership of a political party or an independent elected member joins a political party or votes against the position of the party in the House or the member abstains from voting or a nominated member joins a political party. But if one-third of the MLAs or MPs of any party want to join another party, their membership will not be lost.

This law was also amended in 2003. When this law was made, the provision was that if a parent party splits and one-third of the MLAs form a new group, their membership does not lapse. But this was followed by massive defection and it was felt that the provision of split in the party was being invoked. Hence this provision was repealed. In 2003, 99 amendments to the Tenth Schedule to the Constitution were proposed to make the law more effective in dealing with frequent defections. The Bill was passed by the Lok Sabha on 16 December 2003 and by the Rajya Sabha on 18 December 2003. The assent of the President was received on 1 January 2004 and the Constitution (99th Amendment) Act- 2003 was published in the Gazette of India on 2 January 2004.

An anti-defection law as per the 2003 Act allows a political party to merge with or with another political party. Provided that not less than two-thirds of its members are in favor of the merger. Thus under this Act, a member once disqualified can contest from any seat of the same House from any political party. To decide the question of disqualification on the ground of defection, the matter is referred to the Speaker or Speaker of the House which is subject to judicial review.

Strengthening the anti-defection law was also discussed in the presiding officers’ meeting held at Parliament House under the chairmanship of Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla. It was decided in the meeting that all stakeholders like presiding officer, constitutional experts and legal scholars should be consulted before taking a final decision in this regard. The central government should take effective steps for complete ban on defection as soon as possible. The government should make a law which can terminate the membership of a defecting member at any cost. Only then the game of defection which has become rampant in politics will be completely stopped.

-Ramesh Sarraf Dhamora

(The author is a freelance journalist recognized by the Government of Rajasthan. His articles are published in several newspapers in the country)

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