Politicians quitting their parties and fighting elections for other political outfits is a “disturbing trend” that calls for a stronger anti-defection law, former Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu said on Tuesday, reported The Indian Express.

“In the morning, you are in one party, in the afternoon, you join the other one,” the former vice president said at a function in New Delhi after he received the Padma Vibhushan from President Droupadi Murmu. “The next day, you get a ticket to fight the election. First, you are praising your new leader and then you abuse your former leader.”

Naidu suggested that a defector should ideally resign from all political posts before joining another party. “I can understand about accusations but using abusive language should be avoided,” Naidu added.

Naidu said that he had been with the Bharatiya Janata Party throughout his political career of five decades, during which he served as a Union minister and as the party’s president between 2002 and 2004.

The remarks come at a time when a number of politicians are changing parties in the hopes of contesting the Lok Sabha elections. According to The Indian Express, more than a quarter of the BJP’s 433 candidates contesting the polls have joined from other parties. However, the former vice president clarified that his comments were not aimed at any particular party.

The anti-defection law, introduced through a constitutional amendment by the Rajiv Gandhi government in 1985, lays down the process by which legislators can be disqualified on grounds of defection by the presiding officer of a legislature based on a petition by any other member of the House.

According to the law, defection from the party is defined as when a legislator either voluntarily gives up the membership of their party or disobeys the directives of the party leadership on a vote. A legislator who defies their party by abstaining or voting against the party whip on any issue can lose their membership of the House.

In recent years the law has failed to curb defections and splits within parties as seen in Maharashtra and Bihar. The Maha Vikas Aghadi alliance in Maharashtra was toppled in 2022 after Shiv Sena legislators rebelled against Uddhav Thackeray, who was the chief minister at the time.

In Bihar, Janata Dal (United) led by Nitish Kumar returned to his alliance with the BJP in January after ditching the grand allinace, which included the Rashtriya Janata Dal. This was the fourth time in the past decade Kumar changed allegiance.

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