mBJP’s Operation Tamara has also seen success in Harashtra. After more than a week of political uncertainty, the Uddhav Thackeray government had to step down. With the blessings of Union Home Minister Amit Shah, opposition leader Devendra Fadnavis split the Shiv Sena and brought down the Uddhav Thackeray-led Aghadi government. The internal rebellion in the Shiv Sena helped Fadnavis’s moves. With this, Maharashtra is also moving towards a BJP-controlled administration.
Uddhav Thackeray tendered his resignation after the Supreme Court upheld the Governor’s decision to hold a trust vote on the government on Thursday and prove its majority. Soon after BJP leader and former Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis met the Governor demanding a vote of confidence, the Governor sent a letter to the Maharashtra Assembly Secretary asking him to call a special meeting and prove the government’s confidence. Legal experts have expressed doubts about the democratic nature of the court’s decision to uphold the Governor’s decision to grant no delay when one MLA who supports the government is abroad and two are ill. The legitimacy of holding the polls without deciding whether they are eligible to participate in the polls while the Speaker’s demand to disqualify the 16 dissident MLAs is being considered by the Governor.
The BJP and the Shiv Sena jointly sought the mandate in the 2019 assembly elections. The alliance got a clear majority in the assembly. The alliance fell apart when the Shiv Sena’s demand to share the post of Chief Minister was rejected by the BJP, and Shiv Sena leader Uddhav Thackeray joined the NCP and the Congress to become the Chief Minister. Uddhav took power by bringing down the BJP government led by Fadnavis, who was sworn in as the largest single party in the beginning. This was a huge fatigue for BJP and Fadnavis. The BJP started its moves to topple the Uddhav government that very day. With the government led by Shiv Sena rebel leader Eknath Shinde coming to power, the coup by Uddhav Thackeray in 2019 is being reversed.
Political horse trading has become the biggest threat to Indian democracy. Although it has been going on for decades, the trend of subverting governments by banning MLAs increased after the BJP came to power at the center in 2014. It was this way that the BJP came to power in Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Goa and Madhya Pradesh. In 2016, Congress overthrew the 42-member Congress government in Arunachal’s 60-member assembly by influencing 41 MLAs of the Congress. In the 2017 elections in Manipur, despite the Congress being the single largest party with 28 seats, the BJP won 21 seats. This political exercise was carried out with the help of the Governor, who became the spearhead of the Centre, and the sacking of nine MLAs from the Congress. The political drama in Goa, where elections were held the same year, was similar. Although Congress is the largest single party with 17 seats in the 40-member house, the government was formed by the BJP with only 13 members. This political coup was carried out by removing 11 people from Congress and other parties. The ruling party MLAs were also influenced by the overthrow of the Kamal Nath government in Madhya Pradesh in 2018, which came to power with the support of 121 people, including independents, and the Congress-JDS government in Karnataka in 2019.
Some of the loopholes in the 1985 ban on defection allow political opponents to influence the MLAs of the ruling party to overthrow the government. The anti-defection law introduced by the Rajiv government stipulates that if a member voluntarily resigns his membership of that party after contesting and winning on the symbol of that party, or acts contrary to the party’s instructions in voting in the House, the said member will lose his membership in the House. The purpose of the Act was to prevent the change of position as felt in the People’s Representative Assembly or Parliament, but the provision that if two-thirds of the Legislative Party defected from membership of the Legislature, it defeated the very purpose of this Act. After contesting on the ticket of one party and winning, joining another party and working against the interests and positions of the party that gave the candidate is a serious betrayal of the said party and the voters. If it is difficult to remain in the party represented in the election, then the member should resign and face re-election. The Kerala High Court’s November 2020 observation that any form of defection is against the morality and decency of a democratic system is noteworthy.