Dissent and defection

By Nagaland Post | Publish Date: 7/25/2020 1:26:46 PM IST

 Earlier it was Karnataka followed by Madhya Pradesh and now Rajasthan -all of which saw non-NDA governments fall like ninepins not because the Congress legislators were always bickering but that the BJP with all its awesome resources, strategy and power was able to exploit the situations. In all cases, the ruling of speakers of the houses were checkmated by decisions of courts and governors. The prediction that Congress governments (including coalitions) in Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh would fall was made as early as in mid-2019 by various political pundits. Today Congress government in Rajasthan is on the chopping block and after that, it will be Chhattisgarh. In one article in 2019, it was predicted that the toppling will follow the same routine - assembly Speaker holding firm, “sticking” to Constitutional values and the Courts nudging the Speakers. In the Rajasthan game, rebel Congress leader and former deputy chief minister Sachin Pilot who is seeking the ouster of chief minister Ashok Gehlot has taken the case to the Rajasthan high court. The issue is whether the court should intervene and pre-empt the speaker even before the latter has issued an order. It may be recalled that in the 1992 Kihoto Hollohon Vrs Zachilhu, five judges of the Supreme Court had ruled that courts cannot judicially review disqualification proceedings under the Tenth Schedule (anti-defection law) of the Constitution, until the Speaker makes a final decision on the merits of the case. However the Pilot camp has argued that mere disagreement with the Gehlot’s working style cannot be construed to be defection. Issuing such a notice by the Speaker is also a violation of their freedom of speech right. They also said the whip applies when the House is in session and not outside. The comment of the court that the voice of dissent within the party cannot be suppressed, has indeed revealed its mind. “Voice of dissent cannot be shut. They have all been elected by the people. Can they not express their dissent?’ the court observed. However, it cannot be dissent when rebels ask their own party government to face a floor test and seen openly hobnobbing with the opposition party. Going by the SC verdict in the Ravi Naik case (1994), their conduct would clearly fall under the category of defection. ‘Even in the absence of a formal resignation, an inference can be drawn from the conduct of a member that he has voluntarily given up his membership of the party to which he belongs,’ the court had ruled. The opposition BJP is right that it is a problem within the Congress, yet the party cannot feign innocence in the entire operation. If it were so, then Pilot would not have taken his flocks to BJP-ruled Haryana. A likely scenario if the plot doesn’t work out for the BJP- president’s rule and suspended animation of the house. Politics bereft of ethics is nothing but a vulgar dash for power. Inducing lawmakers to switch sides to cook up a majority for a party voted out by the electorate cannot be approved of. Both parliament as well as the judiciary, in particular, need to address this as defections still remain the bane of democracy.

Launched on December 3,1990. Nagaland Post is the first and highest circulated newspaper of Nagaland state. Nagaland Post is also the first newspaper in Nagaland to be published in multi-colour.

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