Who is a Whip? What are the different types of Whip? What are the functions and importance of the Whip? What are its issues? To answer these questions, read further.
A whip is a written directive that a political party issues to its members, requiring them to vote a certain way or be present for a crucial vote. The phrase comes from the traditional British method of “whipping in” legislators to to the party line.
A political party has the constitutional authority to issue a whip to its legislators under the Tenth Schedule (anti-defection law).
The position of “whip” is not specified in the Indian Constitution, the House Rules, or a parliamentary statute. It is based on the parliamentary government’s conventions.
The Speaker of the Rajasthan Legislative Assembly was ordered by the State High Court to retain the status quo in the disqualification processes launched against expelled MLAs following the anti-defection law, but the Congress chief whip has appealed that decision to the Supreme Court.
In the 1992 KihotoHollohan case, the Supreme Court unequivocally decided that courts shouldn’t become involved in disqualification cases until the Speaker makes a final decision. The SC ruled that the Tenth Schedule’s use is restricted to a vote of “no confidence” in the government.
Types of Whips
A one-line whip is used to notify party members of a vote. If they choose not to to the party line, they are allowed to abstain.
According to a two-line whip, members must be present in the House at the time of voting.
A three-line whip was issued to members, ordering them to vote along party lines.
Functions of Whip
- The whip is essential to the effective and efficient operation of business on the House floor. To garner support, he is tasked with making sure that party members are there in big numbers and winning their support for or against a certain cause.
- He is responsible for maintaining the order among party representatives in the House and adhering to party lines to ensure that MPs cast their votes along party lines
- He should make sure the MPs are aware of the party’s position regarding the members’ moods. He notices the evident symptoms of discontent among MPs and alerts the appropriate party leaders.
- He or she also serves as an advisor to the party leaders and a counselor to the party’s representatives in the House and is in charge of upholding the internal party structure in Parliament and acts as a binding force within the party.
- The chief whip’s primary responsibilities include scheduling the time of the session and organizing, overseeing, and managing the government’s activities.
Importance of whips
- Whips are essential to the internal structure of the parties within the legislatures.
- The office of the Whip plays a significant role in the effective and seamless operation of the State and Central legislatures. The Whips are legitimately referred to as the party leaders in the parliament.
- Government whips serve as a crucial channel for information between the House speaker and the members of the governing party.
- He also maintains close contact with the whips of the other parties on a variety of issues affecting the House as a whole, including those of the House’s business.
- A whip frequently restrains a party member’s freedom of choice, preventing them from using their discretion and expressing their own opinions. A method in the United Kingdom called “Free Vote” allows political party members to cast their ballots however they like on particular subjects.
- A member of Parliament who disobeys the party whip risks being expelled from the House under the Anti-Defection Act.
- Only when more than a third of lawmakers vote against a proposal, essentially dividing the party, this rule not apply.
- And in some situations, such as presidential elections, whips cannot order MPs or MLAs to cast their votes a certain way.
- Because of the whip system and the anti-defection rule, MPs are reduced to a simple headcount on the House floor and in practice, this results in a propensity to form “forced consensus” on some subjects and legislation.
- The fear of losing their seats prevents party members from expressing opposing opinions during debates and it is seen that regardless of how good or bad a piece of legislation is, it has been noted that members would support or oppose it based solely on party lines.
UK: In the UK, breaking the three-line whip leads to a person’s expulsion from the party; however, the member may continue serving as an independent member of Parliament until the party accepts him or her back. The political structure of the government is set up so that only extremely extraordinary circumstances would allow an MP to deviate from the party line.
USA: The party whip’s job is to count the number of MPs who support and oppose a particular piece of legislation. Whip tries to urge the members to vote along party lines after measuring. Since candidates are chosen for a particular seat through a primary election, they are free to express opposing opinions based on their regional interests.
India: Party leaders in India choose the candidates for seats. Members are discouraged from defying the party line by it. Additionally, India’s anti-defection laws and whip system nullify the influence of candidates’ views on important subjects.
The party members should take a longer path toward reaching an agreement on all important topics, and the issue of a whip could be restricted to only those measures that pose a threat to a government’s ability to continue in offices, such as money bills or motions of no confidence.
Adopt the UK’s “Free Vote” system, in which political parties permit their members to cast their ballots any way they like.
A whip system is a necessary evil to ensure stability and efficient government operations. To preserve the democratic nature of the parliamentary system of government.
Article written by Chetna Yadav.