A.G. Mulgaokar in the August 1968 edition of Freedom First Magazine wrote a piece on “Defections And Their Control” wherein he refers to desertions by members of legislatures as an onslaught on the Constitution. 

Mulgaonkar mentions that the trend of defections is not new, and he cites historical precedents of such acts as being part of the process of democratic evolution. 

Among the many points that the author highlights, the most pertinent is his observation that a lasting solution to the problem of defection can only come when political parties adhere to the basic tenets of morality and observe well-accepted guidelines of propriety and basic decencies of public life. 

Produced below is the excerpt from the article by A.G Mulgaonkar titled “Defections and Their Control” published in the August 1968 edition of the Freedom First magazine.

For some time past now the problem of defections by elected members of political parties in the legislature has become a major headache; not merely to the political bosses, whose domain would thereby be in danger, but to many in this country and outside, who, on the advent of freedom felt a natural glow of pride that the price, in a historical sense, had been so little. With the birth of the Indian Constitution, few short years later, it was commonly felt the ship of the Indian State was embarked on a smooth voyage in fair weather. 

Alas, the many who nourished these fond hopes were soon to be disillusioned. That the disillusionment came at the hands of those who were charged with the duty of protecting and nurturing the Constitution was sadly ironical. Because let us not forget that it is the primary duty of every member of a legislature, every Speaker and every Minister to uphold the Constitution and never to do anything which will implant in the mind of the common citizen doubts about its sanctity. Applying this simple test, we cannot escape the irresistible conclusion that some of the biggest onslaughts on the Constitution and even to Democracy have come from these quarters. Onslaughts on the Constitution are not to be confused with efforts to eradicate defects or to improve its efficacy. One such onslaught indeed is when the ordinary citizen going about his daily avocation sees members of legislatures changing and rechanging their party allegiances; his common sense tells him clearly that personal gain is the motive in every case. 

It is small wonder if he then begins to feel doubtful of the success of democracy in this country and his thoughts turn to less pleasant alternatives. If this situation multiplies on a large scale, it can be imagined without much effort where the country will go. Therefore, the need to stop this rot and reverse the process is urgent.

The original text can be accessed here.

IndianLiberals.in is an online library of all Indian liberal writings, lectures and other materials in English and other Indian regional languages. The material that has been collected so far contains liberal commentary dating from the early 19th century till the present. The portal helps preserve an often unknown but very rich Indian liberal tradition and explain the relevance of the writings in today’s context.

Read more: India, China: ancient civilisations, different paths

Post Disclaimer

The opinions expressed in this essay are those of the authors. They do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of CCS.