Legal provision is necessary to bring good and honest people
Legal provision is necessary to bring good and honest people to politics. This is a difficult task. But the politics of the country and the country cannot improve easily, for that, difficult things will have to be done.
The first and astonishing development of defection in the country’s politics came to the fore in Haryana, when in October 1967, a Haryana MLA, Gaya Lal, changed the party thrice in fifteen days.
Due to this, the name of that incident became ‘Aaya Ram Gaya Ram‘. The defection has been on since then. The Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) recently researched MPs and MLAs who switched parties and contested re-election in the last five years.
It has been found in it that during this period 443 members broke anti-defection laws. Of these, 170 (42%) MLAs thought it appropriate to leave the Congress and go to other parties, while only 18 BJP MLAs joined other parties. While 182 (45%) MLAs left their party and went to BJP. I
t would not be unreasonable to say that the fall of the old government and the formation of a new government in Madhya Pradesh, Manipur, Goa, Arunachal Pradesh and Karnataka in the recent past was due to defection.
Why do MPs and MLAs change parties so quickly?
Although there can be many reasons for this, in general, the temptation to become a minister or to get money is the main one.
Many questions arise from this. Firstly, there is doubt on the self-respect of the newly-elected MLAs. Often they are taken in air-conditioned buses or aeroplanes to expensive resorts or hotels and kept under house arrest.
Now such scenes are common after almost every assembly election. Even the legislators themselves do not feel that being held captive like this is a question mark on their wisdom and maturity.
The self-respect of any person, especially the elected leader, should be strongly objected to such behaviour. But from his pictures and video clips, it is seen that he is very happy in this condition.
This means that our MLAs and MPs lack maturity. It can be said that morality in politics has come to an end. The sole aim of those who enter politics is to earn money and increase wealth. The Law Commission of India, in a report released in 1999, had written that ‘Corruption in public life is increasing very much.
It seems that there is only one reason for people to enter politics and contest elections to become rich overnight. The criminalization of politics is also a major reason for the lack of morality.
When serious criminal cases against 43 per cent of the Lok Sabha members are pending in courts, it seems impractical to expect morality. Democratic principles have no place in the internal affairs of our political parties.
Every political party runs on the wishes of a particular individual, a group or a family.
The selection of candidates in elections is also done of their own free will. There is no democratic provision in it. To prevent defection, the Anti-Defection Act was enacted in 1985 by making the 52nd amendment to the Constitution.
There was a provision in it that if any MP or MLA votes against the whip of his party in the session of Parliament or Vidhan Sabha, then his membership can be terminated.
Membership can be terminated even if you join another party. But relaxation was also given in this that if two-thirds or more of the MPs or MLAs defect, then the membership will not end. Only the Speaker of the Parliament or the Legislative Assembly can decide which MP or MLA will or will not apply to the anti-defection law.
Defection became law and for a few years, it had little effect. But the result of the provision of two-thirds was that people started saying that there can be horse-trading of MLAs and MPs in bulk, not retail.
Another unique trick was devised to evade this law. Under this, the Speaker of the Legislative Assembly did not even decide whether such a member had violated this law or not.
With the changing times, this law became almost redundant. In the year 2003, the 91st Constitutional Amendment said that MPs or MLAs cannot hold any gainful office after defection. The amendment also said that the number of ministers in the state government cannot exceed 15 per cent of the total number of members.
Even these amendments did not improve the situation much. Some fundamental reforms are needed to deal with this situation. The first thing is that instead of the Speaker of Parliament or the Speaker of the Legislative Assembly, the President for the Parliament and the Governor for the Assembly should decide the change of party.
They should consult the Election Commission before taking a decision. There should also be a law on how the internal working of political parties will be done.
If political parties are not intrinsically democratic, then how can they run a democratic system in the country?
This is discussed in detail in the report of the Law Commission of India released in 1999. The Supreme Court, in a judgment dated February 13, 2020, said that if political parties give tickets to persons against whom serious criminal cases are pending in courts, the parties will have to give detailed reasons for the same.
The top court has even said that being a winning candidate cannot be a reason to give the ticket to a person with a criminal background.
Legal provision is necessary to bring good and honest people to politics. But this cannot be expected from the present political parties or politicians.
For this, the public, the judiciary and the media groups will have to unite and force the political parties to reform their structures. This is a difficult task. But the politics of the country and the country cannot improve easily, for that, difficult things will have to be done.