Research Foundation for Governance
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Projects > Assessing the Impact of Anti-Defection Law in India

Virtually in every parliamentary democracy, it is crucial how each legislator votes on a particular bill. The vote of a legislator is supposed to be representative of his/her constituency.

However, Indian MPs often switched their allegiance at the time of any major vote without keeping in mind the constituency’s views or the party manifesto. To prevent such defections/ horse-trading, major parties got together to amend the Constitution to this effect not once but twice.

The present provisions in the Constitution now disqualify legislators who switch allegiances and require them to vote as per the instructions of the party whip. It no longer matters what an individual legislator or his/her constituency thinks. It only matters what the party leadership requires him/her to think while voting. In addressing the horse-trading problem, our anti-defection law has diminished the role of our legislators and impacted various quarters of our democracy.

In this project, RFG India, along with PRS Legislative Research, aims to compare the following variables before and after the introduction of Anti-Defection Law:

1) Pattern of voting in the Parliament
(How has the pattern of voting of different MPs changed? Are there any major differences between various political parties? What are the major considerations for a typical MP before he/she votes vis-à-vis the way it used to be earlier?)

2) Vote of an MP vis-à-vis views of his/her constituency
(Is an MP aware about the views of his/her constituency on any major bill? Was he/she more aware earlier? How representative is the vote of an MP/ how representative was it earlier? What does a sample of constituencies think about their views being represented or otherwise? What is the general level of awareness amongst the common people as to this?)

3) Impact on inner-party democracy
(How do different political parties build consensus before a major vote post anti-defection vis-à-vis how it used to be earlier? How do they address defecting MPs? Do they consider views from different constituencies? Do they brainstorm regarding the impact of any legislation? Do they consult experts? What influences the view of the whip? What is the prominence of the Party manifesto?)

4) Impact on law-making
(How has the anti-defection law impacted law-making? Has the law-making in India changed significantly due to this? A general comparison of similar bills pre & post anti-defection. Has there been any significant change in the debate on a bill in the Parliament?)

5) Pattern in breaking-up of political parties
(How has the anti-defection law impacted instances of breaking-up of political parties? Is breaking-up from the party only recourse for the dissenting MPs?)


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