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Explained: What is a political party's whip?

July 18, 2008 16:35 IST

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A whip is the instruction issued by political parties to vote according to the party line in a legislature. Violation of the party whip could lead to expulsion under the Anti Defection Act.

Sometimes political parties decide on a particular course of action, but may not issue a whip to enforce it, as in the present instance where the Shiromani Akali Dal has taken a decision to vote against the United Progressive Alliance government but has not issued a whip to its members.

In such a case, the members of Parliament are free to vote as per their choice -- in this case, vote for the government of Dr Manmohan Singh [Images].

But usually, in case of an important vote, a whip is issued

A whip is of three kinds.

  • A one-line whip is non-binding, and merely serves to inform the members of the vote.
  • A two-line whip seeks attendance in the legislature during the vote.
  • A three-line whip is a clear-cut directive, to be present in the legislature during the vote and cast vote according to the party line. Violation of the whip could lead to the member's expulsion from the House.

    In India, under the anti-defection law, a three-line whip can be violated only by more than one-third of a party's strength in the legislature.






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