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It is high time to amend Anti-Defection Law

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 Anti-Defection LawThe year, 2019, being an election year, has some high voltage drama falling in the defection sphere. Defections are usually accompanied by political mayhem.

The art of defections initiated in 1967, there was a different ball game in the life a Haryana based politician namely Gaya Lal. It was the year in which he changed his political parties twice. What was more surprising is that he made all the changes in one day as he changed his party thrice over the period of one fortnight. These defections helped him stay on the side of power in a nascent Haryana government, which was less than a year old. In that backdrop, Aya Ram Gaya, a phrase was coined.

The anti-defection law was added to the Constitution during the Rajiv Gandhi’s tenure as the Prime Minister in 1985. It was passed as the 52nd Amendment Act and it added the law as the 10th Schedule of the Constitution. The Statement of Objectives and reasons of the Fifty-second Constitution Amendment Bill read: “The evil political defection has been a matter of national concern. If it is not combated, it is likely to undermine the very foundations of our democracy and the principles which sustain it.”

The anti-defection law sought to prevent such political defections which may be due to the reward of office or similar consideration. But this law has some exceptions since politicians avail them and do not hesitate to defect their party to another party.

Once more it has become a matter of great concern and a lot of questions are being raised over the law that it does not seem to serve any purpose.

It all had happened after the concurrent upheavals in the Goa Assembly where 10 of the 15 Congress Members of Legislative Assembly (MLAs) switched over to the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government, and within 48 hours, three of them were made ministers, and in Karnataka Assembly where several MLAs of Janta Dal (Secular) and Congress have submitted their resignations. Since the MLAs constituted two-thirds of the 15-member Congress Legislative Party in Goa, the anti-defection law did not apply. For it is an exceptional case in the bill aforesaid.

It is not the story of two states, rather it is becoming a concerning matter in the state after state that key opposition leaders in every state either actively encouraged or tacitly induced to break away. Most of them have a questionable background. They are accused of being involved in corruption and scams, but the moment they join BJP the accusations and probe campaign into their involvement surprisingly slow down.

The defectors neither think about the common people who elect them nor do they care about their sentiments related to a particular party. And sometimes a man trusts a particular party more than he trusts an individual MLA/MP and casts his vote for the party not the MLA/MP.

So, it is high time to consider some amendments to anti-defection law that any MLAs or MPs, who defects during their five-year tenure, cannot be given any special post in the party to which they defect nor any ministry as long as their duration of that assembly or Parliament ends. Otherwise, the increase in defections will bring some serious consequences to our democracy.

By Faheem Usmani Qasmi

(The views expressed by the author in the article are his/her own.)

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