Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Upgrading the Anti-Defection Law - putting a tube on the neolithic wheel !

Electoral reforms:

One of the most striking inventions that set humanity in motion was a wheel. But we would have been stuck if we chose to stay with the wobbly, donught-shaped discs of stone that jumped & bumped. 
So, how did we move on and gain speed ? By making it smoother, reducing weight by adding spokes and reducing bumpiness by putting a pneumatic tube on the circumference.

When a product was made - it was done by a creative empathiser who operated out of his box of empathy towards the world. But why is that the product did not remain useful forever. If product is an answer to a problem, the product would lose value as the problem itself will change. 

Imagine using the neolithic wheel on a freeway! 

Similarly when rules are made - they are made for a certain time with contextual empathy.
That is a fairly long explanation to come to the point of electoral reforms.

When India became a country and our forefather wrote our constitution, they did a great job with contextual empathy. They foresaw problems, but it would be unfair to expect them to foresee things as they would shape after five or six decades.

Let us look at elections: the party with simple majority gets the invite from the Governor to form the government. That is simple. But it became complicated as fractured mandates started appearing. Then came the ‘fair norm’ of ‘Single Largest Party’. This led to the concept of Common Minimum Program. This has led to another problem - blackmailing by smaller parties to keep the bigger parties in power. Common Minimum Program conveniently shapes as Common Maximum Plunder under disconnected coalitions.

What if the rules of ‘horse trading’ apply on the pre-/post- election coalitions. I know this is not very clear. Let me try to explain. 
Case example: In Goa there 40 MLA. A simple majority means that the government must have the support of 21 candidates. But the common minimum program once enacted would keep the CM on toes as he can face the black-mail by the smaller parties - who could conveniently switch to join a potential Congress government.

Is there a solution to this trouble ? What if the anti-defection law would apply to not a party but the group in power. This would mean that a smaller party can’t evade anti-defection law just because it has three members. Instead the group size must be 1/3 rd of the group of MLAs (i.e. 7). Hence to bring down a coalition government there must be exit of at least a third of MLAs from the coalition.

This would bring down instability in a multi-party system. Any takers ?

I hope we can upgrade the 52nd Amendment, 1985. Using a neolithic wheel on an Expressway ? Maybe put a pneumatic tube on it.