Anti-Defection Law (1985)

Under the 52nd Constitutional Amendment Act (1985) as added with the Tenth Schedule, the law, now, says that a member of Parliament or a state legislature would lose membership if (a) he gives up the membership of the party on whose ticket he was elected to the House; (b) if he votes or abstains from voting in the House against the direction of his original political party; (c) if an independent member joins any political party after election; (d) if any nominated member joins any political party after the expiry of six months from the date on which he became a member in the House.

The above provisions would not apply to a member if (i) he leaves the party as a result of a split in the party, i.e. one-third of the members of a party left the party to form another party, (ii) he leaves the party as a result of its merger with some other party, provided two-third of the members of the legislature party agree to such a merger, (iii) he is elected as presiding officer of the House and gives up his membership of the party to become non-partisan. The final decision on the question whether a person has incurred disqualification on grounds of defection rests with the presiding officer of the House. In 2003, the ninety-first amendment to the Constitution was made, seeking a further check on the evil of defection. It prohibits the defectors from holding any public office as minister or any other political post for at least the duration of the remaining term of the existing legislature or until fresh elections were held.

Political Parties in India

The nature of party system in India is unique in many respects. The Indian party system is neither a single party system nor a bi-party system. It is not a multi-party system, for the national political parties as they existed in the past or exist now, are not equally or nearly equally powerful either in the legislatures or outside. It is not a dominant one party system, for the Congress Party which had gained this position in the first two decades does not enjoy the same status now. Indeed, the Indian party system is a system without any system, for it does not fit anywhere in any known party systems. We have leaders without political parties, rather political parties without leaders. We have political parties loosely organized; and leaders, ideologically not very much committed to ideologies. The rise of regional parties and their changing role in the Indian political system have increased their importance; their politics extend now to the national level.

The nature of the Indian party system has changed from time to time : it has changed from one dominant party system (until, say 1967) to a system when there was opposition between the Congress-led Centre and the non-Congress governments in some states, a period which extended till about 1980 when the demand for state autonomy dominated the Indian politics. During the larger part of the 1980s and 1990s or little before, the Indian political system witnessed a near multi-party system when political parties supported the ruling parties from inside or outside the government. With the later years of 1990s, the coalitional politics has ruled India. From 2014, the coalitional politics gave way to one-party dominance system. The Indian party system is not a multiple party system, though there is a multiplicity of political parties in India. The number of national and state level political parties have considerably increased. "ere were 53 national and state political parties in 1952, 15 in 1957, 27 in 1962, 25 in 1967, 53 in 1971, 34 in 1977, 36 in 1980, 33 in 1984, 113 in 1989, 145 in 1991, 209 in 1996, 176 in 1998, 169 in 1999, 230 in 2004 Lok Sabha elections, while 363 political parties in 2009 Lok Sabha elections. In 2014, around 400 political parties took part in Lok Sabha elections. Lately, and particularly since 1989, there has developed the alliance politics in the Indian party system.

The party system, both at the national as well as at the state levels, is not hegemonic; though competitive it has been. Alliance partners are not permanent, a regional political party may support a 152�Indian Polity and Governance particular national political party today and a different political party in the next elections. Alliance politics gives birth to coalitional government supported either from inside or from outside the government. The alliances are neither permanent nor cohesive. Smaller parties align themselves either with the Congress or BJP to form the central government. "ere have been attempts to form a third front consisting of non-Congress and non-BJP, mostly the left political parties and others. At times, the third front seems emerging, another time, it seems disappearing. The independents contesting the elections are on the decline over the years. The vote share of independent candidates has gone down from 19.3ft in 1957 to 4.3ft in 2004. In 1952, 533 independent candidates ran for the Lok Sabha elections, 37 got elected; in 2004, 2377 contested and, five got elected. The number of independents drastically reduced in 2009 though a good number participated 2014. Regional political parties have their influence in their respective states/regions.

The regional political parties, in India, are of the following types:

(i) One category of the regional political parties are those parties which are ethnically and culturally based. Such political parties capture power in their respective states in the name of culture, ethnicity or language. Some examples of such political parties are Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK), Shiv Sena, Asom Gana Parishad, National Conference, Jharkhand Mukti Morcha, Shiromani Akali Dal, Telugu Desam and the like.

(ii) The other category of the regional political parties is those parties, which have been formed by the split in national political parties. Most of such political parties were formed after 1967. These include Biju Janata Dal, Janata Party, Kerala Congress, Rashtriya Janata Dal, Samajwadi Janata Party, Trinamool Congress, Utkal Congress, Bangla Congress, Vishal Haryana Parishad, Telegana Praja Samiti and the like.

(iii) Still, the other category of the regional political parties are those parties which, on the basis of ideology and programme, have a secular perspective, though such political parties, with no national base, try to operate at the all-India level. Such political parties include All-India Forward Block, Indian National Lok Dal, Nationalist Congress Party (a political party in 2004), the Republican Party of India, Revolutionary Socialist Party, Sawajwadi Party and the like.

(iv) Still another category of regional political parties is of those parties which can be called personalized parties. Such political parties are formed by individual leaders. Such political parties do not survive for long and get rejected or get merged with some national or regional political party. Such parties include Haryana Vikas Congress, Haryana Vikas Party, Lok Shakti and the like. The regional political parties have become important, especially in the post 1989 era. It is not difficult to locate reasons: the national political parties have become weak due to splits in their ranks; instability caused in the government largely due to the relative weakening status of the political parties at the national level.

Written by princy

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