The Congress has seen the largest outflow of MLAs who left the party and re-contested elections in the last five years, as per an analysis by the Association of Democratic Reforms (ADR).
The analysis shows that between 2016 and 2020, 172 MLAs left the Indian National Congress to join another party. The total number of MLAs who switched political parties in the period was 405. Of these, more than two in five (44.9 per cent) joined the Bharatiya Janata Party. The INC came second on the list with 38 MLAs joining it, while 25 MLAs joined the Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS).
The number of MLAs who left the INC is almost 9.5 times more than those who left the BJP.
Among the Lok Sabha MPs who left their party, however, there is none from the Congress. On this list of 12, it is the BJP who lost the most―five. Among the Rajya Sabha MPs though, of the 16 that left the party, seven came from the INC.
Between 2016 and 2020, 10 (62.5 per cent) out of 16 re-contesting Rajya Sabha MPs who switched political parties joined the BJP and five (41.7 per cent) out of 12 Lok Sabha MPs who changed parties joined INC in the Lok Sabha Election 2019.
The ADR analysed the self-sworn affidavits of 433 MPs and MLAs who switched parties and re-contested elections in the period for the analysis.
The analysis is of significance given that the recent fall of governments in Madhya Pradesh, Manipur, Goa, Arunachal Pradesh and the Karnataka state assemblies were due to defections of their MLAs.
To curb defections, the ADR has suggested that instead of the prevalent Presiding Officers (Chairman or the Speaker) the decision to disqualify a member should be made by the President (in case of MPs) or the Governor (in case of MLAs) on the advice of the Election Commission. Defectors must be barred from holding public office or any remunerative post till fresh elections or the remainder of the term of the legislature. The vote cast by a defector to topple a government should be considered invalid. The practice of having oversized Council of Ministers (thereby the leeway to offer these are baits for defectors) must also be prohibited by law. A ceiling on the number of ministers in any state or the Union government be fixed at the maximum of 10 per cent of the total strength of the popular House of the Legislature.
The Association also suggests the introduction of inner party democracy and declaration of candidates contesting elections at least six months before polling.