Monday, August 8, 2022

Time to call it a day

What the current political development in Maharashtra has again brought to focus is the way parliamentary democracy has been trampled at the alter of opportunism. The all too familiar charade that has been repeated over the decades following withdrawal of support to a government which after losing majority continues to cling to power through specious means only strangulates and weakens democracy. As per conventions of parliamentary democracy , a party or a coalition that does not have majority cannot stake claim to form the government and also, in the event a government formed by a single political party or a coalition having lost majority support in the house, should not cling to power. However in practice, Indian parliamentary democracy appears to be based on perception where a party with minority support can be called to form a government and a party of coalition reduced to minority can still be made to cling power through a buy-back scheme. These have happened throughout India during the recent decades and despite litigation in courts, there seems to be no change. In the ongoing Maharashtra political crisis majority of the Sena’s 55 MLAs (one seat falling vacant) have joined the faction led by Sena rebel leader Eknath Shinde. The rebel MLAs claim they have around 40 MLAs out of the 55. The MVA government which had 152 legislators before the rebellion within the Shiv Sena, comprised of : Shiv Sena-55 MLAS, NCP -53 and Congress -44. After around 40 rebel Sena MLAs joined Eknath Shinde, the strength of the MVA coalition has been reduced from 152 to 112 while the BJP-NDA has 106 MLAs. As the rebel Sena MLAs are certain of forming an alliance with the BJP, the strength of the NDA group will (BJP+ 7 Independent MLAs) and with the 40-odd Sena rebels has shot up to 153. Thus the MVA coalition with 112 MLAs is in a minority as against the Sena rebel group plus BJP and independent MLAs having a total of 152 MLAs . The old game and tired game of disqualification by the Speaker or deputy speaker to reduce the number of rebel MLAs and then place the remaining under the same act is against the principle of parliamentary democracy. First of all, if MLAs who have rebelled against the government comprise of 2/3rd of the total strength of the party, then there should be no question of disqualification of any of them by the speaker of deputy speaker as per the Anti Defection Law. The rebels may present themselves before the speaker as well as the governor to prove that they have decided on their own volition. After this is done, the government has no option and with least delay, be prepared to face the floor test. Once defeated the government should resign without further ado. As there is no doubt that the MVA government has lost majority, the beleaguered Uddhav Thackeray coalition should not resort to delay tactics. The MVA minority government has not business to remain in office even for a day. Uddhav Thackeray has only invited trouble on himself by allowing the NCP and his son Aditya to ride roughshod over the Sena MLAs and the MVA government. Also if Sena MLAs were able to move out of Mumbai in droves to join Shinde group in Guwahati also confirms that Uddhav never had been far removed from reality.

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