In political dialect, a whip is a written ordinance which mandates party members to be present in a state assembly or Parliament if an important vote is to be cast, and also demands them to vote in a particular way. The topic, ‘Whip in India’ comes under Indian Polity syllabus of the IAS Exam and for other competitive exams like Banking, Insurance, SSC, RRB, etc. Read about the Whip Politics in the Indian Parliament and more in this article. 

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WHIP in India

The Supreme Court said that the dissident legislators of Karnataka cannot be forced to participate in the current assembly session. This stands against the previous orders of the Supreme Court on the anti-defection law.

As per the Tenth Schedule i.e. anti-defection law, a political party has a constitutional right to issue a whip to its legislators.

Supreme Court in Kihoto Holohan vs Zachillhu case, 1992 held that the application of the Tenth Schedule is limited to a vote on “no-confidence” or  “motion of confidence” in the government or where the motion under consideration relates to a matter which was an integral program or policy of the political party.

Paragraph 2(1)(b) provides for a lawmaker’s disqualification “if he votes or abstains from voting in such House contrary to any direction issued by the political party to which he belongs”.

The term ‘whip’ is derived from the conventional British parliamentary procedure of ordering the legislators both ruling and opposition parties to following the party line.

A whip is a directive from a political party that binds the members of that political party in a House to obey the line of the party. In India, the concept is a remnant of the British colonial rule. Most parties appoint a whip whose job it is to ensure discipline among the party members at the floor of the House.

Although the concept of the whip has no official sanction and is not mentioned in the Constitution, it is a convention that is followed in the Indian Parliament. Any party that finds representation in the House can issue a whip, regardless of its strength in that chamber.

However, there are some cases where the whip stands non-applicable. At the time of presidential elections, whip cannot direct a member of legislative assembly i.e. MLA or a member of Parliament i.e MP on whom to vote.

The chief whip is a Member of Parliament (MP) drawn from the party in power and also from the party that sits in opposition. The whip is also an important party office-bearer in the House.

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Functions of Whip

The chief whip of the party has a crucial role to play in parliamentary democracy. The whip keeps the party together and also ensures smooth and efficient functioning of the business of the House. The chief functions of the whip are:

  • To ensure discipline among party members in the House.
  • To ensure the attendance of the party members.
  • To make sure the MPs vote according to the party line.
  • To ensure that the MPs are informed of the party opinion on the moods of the members.
  • To identify the signs of discontent among MPs and inform the same to respective leaders.
  • To supply the list of speakers on Bills and other businesses in the House.
  • He or she is responsible for maintaining the internal party organization in the Parliament and acts as a binding force in the party.
  • He or she also acts as a counselor to the party members in the House and as an advisor to the party leaders.

In India, the Minister for Parliamentary Affairs is the Chief Whip of the Government. He is assisted by assistant whips also. There are also regional whips who are in liaison with the party members of the states.

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Types of Whips

One line whip: it is issued to inform the members about a vote. In case a member decides not to follow the party line, one line whip allows the member to withhold.

Two-line whip: it is issued to direct the members to be present in the House at the time of voting but no instructions are given on the voting pattern.

Three-line whip: it is issued to members directing them to vote as per the party line.

What if a whip is violated?

If an MP violates the whip of his party, he or she is evicted from the House under the Anti-Defection Law. A three-line whip can be violated only if 1/3rd of the party members of the House decide to vote against the party line.

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