In a significant development ahead of five state polls, the Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) on Thursday, revealed that 433 MPs/MLAs have switched their political parties since 2016, in its report. Moreover, the average assets of re-contesting MPs/ MLAs have increased by 39% from Rs 14.95 crores to Rs 20.80 crores. ADR has issued several suggestions viz. - disqualification of MLAs/MPs by President/Governor, debarring turncoat lawmakers for next elections, declaring political parties as public authorities, regulate parties' affairs, 6-month prior announcement of candidates etc.

ADR report: 433 MP/MLAs changed parties

As per the report, topping the list, 170 Congress MLAs have left its party since 2016, while only 28 BJP MLAs have left the party - the second highest. On the other hand, BJP has seen the highest number of MLAs join it from other parties - 182, while Congress has only seen 38 MLAs join it. As per ADR, 7 Lok Sabha MPs have left the Congress, while 3 Rajya Sabha MPs have left TDP. Interestingly, 5 Lok Sabha MPs have joined Congres, while 10 Rajya Sabha MPs have joined BJP since 2016.

The report also reveals that of the 433 MLAs/MPs who have swapped parties - 0 of the 12 Lok Sabha MPs have won elections, all 16 Rajya Sabha MPs have won, 170 of 357 MLAs (48%) have won elections, while 39 of 48 (81%) MLAs have won by-elections. Among the 433 turncoat lawmakers, 373 (86%) are 'crorepatis' with Congress-turned-BJP MLA N Nagaraju topping the list with assets worth Rs. 1195 crores, followed by TRS-turned-Congress MP Konda Vishweshwara Reddy with Rs 895 crores and Congress-turned-BJP MP Jyotiraditya Scindia with Rs 379 crores. The three poorest turncoat lawmakers are all currently in Trinamool.

Based on its findings, ADR has suggested the following recommendations: 

  • The President/Governor on the recommendation of the EC can disqualify the lawmakers, rather than the Speaker and debar the defector from m holding public office until the next fresh elections or the remaining term of the House. 
  • Declaring political parties as public authorities
  • A law to regulate political parties including their inner functioning
  • Announcement of candidates six months prior to the election
  • Mandatory secret voting in inner-party polls
  • Specific criteria for selection of candidates
  • Cross-verification if assets of turncoat lawmakers
  • Fast-tracking of cases on MP/MLAs
  • Annual Report by MPs and MLAs
  • Declaration of victory of a candidate only if  he or she secures more than 50% of the votes cast
  • Disallowance of contesting by candidates from more than two constituencies
  • Banning offices at the ministerial level
  • Candidates' affidavit certified by political parties
  • Removal of muscle and money nexus
  • Cancellation of tax exemptions to poll candidates

Plea seeks six-year disbarment of turncoats

Currently, a three-bench judge headed by CJI SA Bobde has asked the EC and Centre to examine whether lawmakers who resign to topple a government and then join rival political parties should be barred for six years, after Madhya Pradesh activist Jaya Thakur filed a plea. In the past 7 years of the Modi-Shah rule, BJP has toppled governments in Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Goa, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh and the latest - Puducherry. While BJP did try to form a government with Ajit pawar in Maharashtra, it failed to topple the Ashok Gehlot government in Rajasthan inspite of Sachin Pilot's rebellion. 

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