Deepak Kumar

Cross voting and whips in during recent Rajya Sabha elections

Cross voting and whips in during recent Rajya Sabha elections


Cross voting in Rajya Sabha elections

In recent Rajya sabha elections , we witnessed cross voting in all major parties, which fielded their candidates. Cross voting refers to voting against the party line in favor of another party.

If we explore the legal dimension, to identify the recourse left out with political parties when their elected members defy their instructions during the Rajya Sabha elections, the answer is not straight forward.

It is legally settled question that party whip can be issued related to business inside the House, to enforce the discipline on elected representatives belonging to that party.

If an elected representative defy whip, he is liable to attract disqualification under the anti defection law.

Key questions to ponder:

If we dig deeper in this issue, we should try to search for following questions: why do MLAs cross-vote in Rajya Sabha election? Is it their individual choice to vote or they suppose to tow with party line? If they chose to exercise their choice different than their party’s whip, do they have moral right to continue in that party?

To answer the first question we should look into objectives of council of states and what are the functions its members discharge?

The council of state which is also called Upper House safeguards the interest of states in Federal structure. This House accommodates those figures whose experience may also enrich the legislative process with their intellectual insight and the variety of experiences they posses, however these learned men or women can not afford to contest the direct election for the House of the people.

The President’s nomination based on certain categories like art, literature and social services etc testify the selection of those who provide crucial inputs to legislative business.

Therefore if the MLAs in question are voting for a specific person based on his individual capacity, then questioning their choice is not fully justified. The call for following “voice of conscience” is to vote for right candidate reflects this line of thought.

However, if they chose to vote against the party line not based on such moral choice but for some personal consideration, then they not only acting against the party but also against the electorate who imposed faith in them during elections.

In my opinion if they vote for personal consideration, they shouldn’t continue as member of that party. Because they are not only being elected under that party but also took help for party cadre for their election. Even though the speaker of Legislative assembly can interpret it as an act of giving up the membership of party, but it may jeopardize the entire power equation of current ruling dispensation. In such situation, horse trading become prominent and democratically elect government get toppled.

Those developments should give a clear message to electorate that how they should teach lesson to such politician and set a right example for future breed of political opportunist. Sadly, the citizen’s memory is too short to act proactively is this direction during upcoming general elections.