Tuesday 05 December 2023

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Politics | Assembly '02

Jaitley awaits consensus to stop defections


'Broad consensus' is the word apparently the central government is playing with to legally stop the menace of defections that has totally ruined the Indian polity, but has helped the political parties to come to power through defections.

Union law minister Arun Jaitley admits that the tenth schedule in the Constitution needs to be amended, but not unless a large consensus among at least the principle political parties is reached at.

"We have really not applied our mind to it", he admits, stating that experts also need to go through the amendments proposed by the constitution review committee in this regard.

The constitution review committee has proposed to do away with the provision, which permits one third of the legislators of any party in the elected House to split legally, by forming a separate group.

The gross misuse of the provision is found to be rampant in small states and Goa is presently facing a fourth Assembly election in 12 years, after the anti-defection act came into being and was grossly misused since 1990 to form 13 different governments.

Congress MP Eduardo Faleiro, who has already presented a private member's bill in this regard in the Parliament, feels that the centre could very well make the beginning by introducing separate provision for the smaller states like Goa or in the North East.

The tourist state comprises of only 40 seats and even a group of seven to eight can split legally to topple any popular government.

Though the Congress is the most affected with it, its manifesto however still assures to 'vigorously pursue the matter with the union government so as to automatically disqualify the defector".

While Jaitley avoids a reply, Faleiro disagrees with a suggestion that the amendment should also include debarring any defector from joining the party he leaves, at least for the period of six years.

The Congress every time denounces the defectors who topple their governments and then readmits them to win elections. At least 32 such habitual defectors are contesting even these elections. Over 15 among them are fielded by the Congress alone.

The BJP is also apparently playing soft on the issue as it has helped the saffron brigade to come to power in Goa by engineering defections in the Congress. From 10 elected in last Assembly polls in June 1999, the saffronites got swollen to 21 and formed the BJP government with 16 months, thanks to 'the menace of defections.'

Congress spokesman John Fernandes in fact alleges that union minister Pramod Mahajan has recently made a statement in Delhi that the BJP will get only 16 seats in Goa (out of 40), but will come to power within two months. "Is it possible without engineering defections", he asks.

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