Legislative Council in States: Issues & Way Forward

[op-ed snap] Preventing political coalitions of convenience


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Anti Defection Law

Mains level : Anti Defection Law to political parties


In Maharashtra, BJP turned the tables on its political rivals with the help of a faction of the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) led by Ajit Pawar. These political maneuvers in the state raise several pertinent questions of law and propriety.

Anti-Defection law – Kihoto Hollohan v. Zachillhu case

    • The intent of the law – The anti-defection law seeks to recognize the need to place the proprieties of political and personal conduct above certain theoretical assumptions, which have fallen into a morass of personal and political degradation.
    • Political parties – A political party functions on the strength of shared beliefs. Any freedom of its members to vote as they please independently of the political party’s declared policies will not only embarrass its public image and popularity but also undermine public confidence”

Coalition as a unit

    • In a multiparty parliamentary arrangement like India, coalitions have become almost an inevitable reality. 
    • Apart from the formal institutional arrangements, pre-poll alliances function as a single consolidated unit. 
    • The partners do not contest elections against each other. Their cadres and volunteers work for the coalition and not just their individual parties. 
    • The voters vote for a set agenda and political ideology on whose premise the coalition rests. 
    • The coming together of two or more parties and the agenda set by them is considered before casting vote. 
    • Therefore, cases of the coalition should be covered under the anti-defection law. Otherwise, the real object and purpose of the 10th Schedule will not get accomplished.
    • Law Commission of India, in the 170th report on ‘Reform of the electoral laws’, opined that a ‘pre-election front/coalition’ of political parties should be treated as a ‘political party’ for the purposes of the anti-defection law.

Disrespect to democracy

    • The political maneuvering by parties in Maharashtra is demeaning to the aspirations of the State’s people. 
    • There is a need to check post-poll ‘alliances of convenience’. Here, parties with diametrically opposite election manifestos and promises come together to share power. 

Way ahead

    • Political parties and individual candidates can be made to disclose a list of ‘probable post-poll alliances’ under a legal framework drafted by the Election Commission.
    • This might help the electorate to gauge the level of ideological and political commitment of the parties and candidates. 
    • The voters might be in a better position to understand the supposed rivalry among different parties. 
    • Situations like those in Maharashtra, Haryana and Karnataka post-election can possibly be avoided(biggest rivals become allies after polls)


    • As noted by B.R. Ambedkar, “the working of a Constitution does not depend wholly upon the nature of the Constitution. The Constitution can provide only the organs of State… The factors on which the working of those organs of the State depend are the people and the political parties they will set up to carry out their wishes and their politics.” 
    • Democracy cannot be restricted to the mere casting of votes and the formation of the government. It is also about the trust among the voters of an electorate that the mandate given by them will be reflected in the government formed after elections.


Anti-Defection Law

The Tenth Schedule — popularly known as the Anti-Defection Act — was included in the Constitution in 1985. It sets the provisions for disqualification of elected members on the grounds of defection to another political party.


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