Political Crisis in Maharashtra - UPSC Current Affairs

Political Crisis in Maharashtra - UPSC Current Affairs

In today’s edition of our Current Affairs Dialog box, we will discuss Political Crisis in Maharashtra. Navigate through the blog to understand the topic in detail and enhance your UPSC CSE Preparation Online.

Prelims: Indian Polity and Governance

Mains: Horse trading, Anti Defection law, Floor Test, Role of Speaker, Role of Governor, and Articles defining Roles of Governor

What is happening in Maharashtra?

Shiv Sena’s senior Minister Eknath Shinde and other Members of Legislative Assemblies (MLAs) revolted against the Maha Vikas Aghadi (joint government of Shiv Sena, NCP, and Congress) leading Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray’s government on the shaky ground of instability.

Similar Examples from the Recent Past

  • Political instability like Maharashtra was also seen in Karnataka in 2019 when the United Progressive Alliance government in Karnataka fell after some members of the legislative assembly of the state resigned.
  • A similar situation was faced by the Madhya Pradesh Governor in 2020 when the Congress government lost the confidence of the House after Members of Legislative Assemblies (MLAs) in the Jyotiraditya Scindia camp defected to the BJP and the Governor called for the floor test.
  • A few months ago, such an instance led to the resignation of the Chief Minister of Puducherry as he failed to prove his majority on the floor of the House.

Also Read: UN Cybercrime Treaty and Freedom of Speech

Related Concepts and Provisions

Horse Trading 

  • Horse Trading is the phrase used for buying and selling of elected legislators to form or bring down the party which is in power. 
  • A situation like this is caused when the feeling of lack of confidence, mistrust arises or attraction towards some prospect of becoming part of favoring the government in order to come to power or fulfill monetary interests.
  • Anti-Defection Law
    • The law is applicable to the elected Members of Legislative Assemblies (MLAs) or Members of Parliament (MPs) who voluntarily give up their party membership or vote against the whip of the party.
    • It prohibits MLAs or MPs from joining a political party, and if they still do so, it might result in losing their membership in the legislature.
    • The Anti-Defection Act is also popularly known as Tenth Schedule of Indian Constitution – it became part of the Constitution via the 52nd Amendment Act, 1985.
    • There is an exception to the Anti-Defection law for those number of MLAs or MPs who constitute two-thirds of the party’s strength and leave a political party in the legislature. They are allowed to either merge with another party or become a separate group in the legislature.
    • The anti-defection law applies under cases where any MLAs or MPs file a petition with documentary evidence to the Speaker regarding such MLAs or MPs, who have defected, shall be disqualified. After hearing all the parties, the Speaker takes the decision.
  • Floor Test
    • The Floor test is usually conducted, when the existing government lost the confidence of the House, and to prove the majority in the House, the Governor held the power to conduct the test at any time.
    • In the case of a coalition government like the Maha Vikas Aghadi, the CM may be asked to move the vote of confidence or trust vote and win a majority.
    • The vote will be counted for only those who were present and choose to vote.
    • If there is no majority, a special session can also be called by the Governor to see who has the majority to form the government.
  • Role of Speaker of the Legislative Assembly
    • Matters relating to disqualification of the members of the assembly are taken by the Speaker of the Assembly. 
    • The Speaker can call for a floor test, only when the House is in session. Else the Governor has the residuary powers to call for a floor test under Article 163.
  • Roles of Governor
    • In case, the government loses the confidence of the House, the Governor can give the CM & his party a chance to prove  the majority on the floor of the House.
    • The Chief Minister of a state can recommend to the Governor to dissolve the legislature before the end of its five-year term and call for elections. But it is the Governor’s discretion to dissolve the legislature or not.
    • Governor can dissolve the legislature on the advice of the CM under Article 174 or on his discretion under Article 163. 
    • The Governors had the power to quickly dismiss a government before 1994 on the charges that it did not have the majority. However, this practice was ended by the Supreme court with its judgment in the S R Bommai and ruled that the place for deciding such cases is in the legislature. 
  • Articles Related to Roles of Governor
    • Article 163: Discretionary power of the Governor comes under it.
    • Article 174: It covers sessions of the State Legislature, prorogation, and dissolution powers of the Governor.
    • Article 175: Right of Governor to address and send messages to the House or Houses.

Concerns: Impact on Democracy 

  • The repetitive pattern of MLAs losing faith in the incumbent government in the state is a less desired instance of the faith and confidence that political parties hold in their own constituents.
  • The constant efforts of rivals to form their own government by whisking away their political flock does little credit to the state of our democratic politics.
  • It is a matter of concern that political bargaining, or horse-trading, has become an oft-repeated usage that makes the law and order situations fragile and weakens the economy.
  • The elected leaders are accountable to the people not to the political parties. However, due to anti-defection law, accountability has been shifted to political parties, and the interests of the people are compromised. 
  • Due to fear of disqualification under Anti defection law, legislators do not participate actively in criticism of the government decisions and nuances of policies framed. 

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Way Forward 

  • For law, judiciary, and government:
    • To deal with situations such as political bargaining or horse-trading, there is a need to rationalize anti-defection laws.
    • Sarkaria Commission (1983) report recommended the role of the Governor in case of a hung assembly, should be implemented now to avoid such instances in our democratic politics.
    • Government should focus on governance rather than politics. 
  • For Political Parties: 
    • It is alarming to bring down the government often repetitively, the political parties should not be arrogant and understand that there are other important issues that need to be resolved.
    • Lust for power shall not compromise the national interest of democratic principles. 
  • For people
    • Democracy is the government of the people, by the people, for the people. So as responsible citizens, we should be wise while casting the votes regardless of caste, religion, language, or any other political or socio-economic factors.
    • Defectors of personal interest can be punished by the people in the next elections by voting them out. 

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