As the political drama ensued in Maharashtra, Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar on Monday said, "A misinformation is being spread that Ajit Pawar is the NCP's legislature party leader who would issue a whip to all (NCP) MLAs to vote for the BJP (in floor test). It is being said that whoever defies the whip would lose his membership of the House."
After consulting with several constitutional experts, the NCP chief said, "Ajit Pawar, who is removed from his position for joining hands with the BJP in forming a government), has no legal right to issue a whip to MLAs."
What is a whip?
A whip is an official of a political party who acts as the party's 'enforcer' inside the legislative assembly or house of parliament. In India, every major political party appoints a whip who is responsible for the party's discipline and behaviour on the floor of the House. A whip is an important office-bearer of the party in the Parliament. Parties appoint a senior member from among their House contingents to issue whips — this member is called a Chief Whip, and he/she is assisted by additional Whips. India inherited the concept of the whip from the British parliamentary system.
What happens if a whip is disobeyed?
A legislator may face disqualification proceedings if she/he disobeys the whip of the party unless the number of lawmakers defying the whip is 2/3rds of the party's strength in the house. Disqualification is decided by the Speaker of the house.
Limitations of whip
There are some cases such as Presidential elections where whips cannot direct a Member of Parliament (MP) or Member of Legislative Assembly (MLA) to vote in a particular fashion.
Types of whips
There are three types of whips or instructions issued by the party
One-line whip is issued to inform members of a party about a vote. It allows a member to abstain in case they decide not to follow the party line.
Two-line whip is issued to direct the members to be present in the House at the time of voting.
Three-line whip is issued to members directing them to vote as per the party line.