Recently, a no-confidence motion was moved in the parliament and was also accepted by the speaker. This article is about the usage of the whip. To vote for the motion, all parties including the BJP, Shiv Sena, Congress, TMC and BJD have issued whip to their MPs to remain present in the Lok Sabha. Introduction The whip is “an official appointed to maintain discipline among, secure attendance of, and give necessary information to, members of his party.” There are three kinds of the whip:
- One-line whip: It is issued to inform the members about the vote;
- Two-line whip: It is issued to inform the members to be present inside the House at the time of the vote;
- Three-line whip: It is issued directing members to vote according to the party line.
Exception: If 1/3rd of the party legislatures decide to vote against the party line, they can go against the 3-line whip. MPs from respective parties must obey the command of the whip, or else they may lose their seat in the parliament under the anti-defection law. Since 1985, there have been a total of 19 cases where MPs lost their seat in Parliament.
Basics about the whip The office of ‘whip’, is mentioned neither in the Constitution of India nor in the Rules of the House nor in a Parliamentary Statute. Convention on parliamentary governments is the basis of it. Every political party has its own whip, whether the party is in power or opposition. He is appointed by the political party to serve as an assistant floor leader.
Other roles of chief whip
- A whip can’t take part in debates and discussions inside the House.
- He keeps the party leaders informed of the opinion of members.
- He keeps the Members of the party together in the Parliament.
International practices USA: In the USA, the function of the party whip is to measure how many MPs are in favour of the bill and how many are against it. After measuring, whip tries to persuade the members to vote on the party lines.
UK: In UK, the violation of the 3-line whip results into the expulsion of the member from the party, but she may continue as an independent member of Parliament until the party admits the member back into the party.
Implications of Whip The political structure of the government is so that it would be in very exceptional circumstances when an MP can differ from the lines of party and whip system supplements it:
- Unlike the USA where candidates for a particular seat are chosen by primary election, in India, party leaders select the candidates for a seat. It provides a disincentive to the members to go against the party lines.
- Moreover, anti-defection law and whip system in India ends the significance of opinion of candidates on major issues.
- longer route of building consensus on all major issues among the party members should be adopted.
- Issuance of a whip could be limited to only those bills that could threaten the survival of a government, such as money bills or no-confidence motions.