THE OPPOSITION Legislative Parties in the current 16th Punjab Vidhan Sabha viz. Congress, BJP, SAD and BSP would soon have to change the nomenclature of their respective Chief Whip in the House to some other name in the House as a consequence of a latest Bill/legislation passed by the Punjab Legislative Assembly on March 22, the last day of this year’s Budget Session.
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An Advocate at Punjab & Haryana High Court, Hemant Kumar, while asserting this interesting but highly significant point told that as Section 2(b) of THE SALARIES AND ALLOWACES OF CHIEF WHIP IN PUNJAB LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY BILL, 2023 stipulates the Definition of Chief Whip as:
‘”Chief Whip” means that member of the Legislative Assembly, who is, for the time being, declared by the majority party to be the Chief Whip in the Legislative Assembly, of the party forming the Government and recognized as such by the Speaker of the Legislative Assembly.’
Hemant says the aforesaid Bill, as passed by Punjab Vidhan Sabha on March 22, when assented to by the Punjab Governor Banwarilal Purohit, and thereafter it gets published in the State’s Official Gazette, would come into force.
Thereafter, in view of the above definition the ruling Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) which has a whopping majority of 92 MLAs in the current 117 member Punjab Vidhan Sabha can only declare its Chief Whip who would be recognized as such by the Speaker.
Opposition Legislative Parties in the House viz. 18 member Congress Legislative Party (CLP), 3 member Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD), 2 member Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and sole member Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) would not be able to declare their Chief Whip.
Of course, these three Opposition Parties can have have their respective Chief Whips but with some other nomenclature since the term Chief Whip would be exclusively for the majority party forming the (State) Government i.e. AAP.
Meanwhile, while quoting the case of his home state, Haryana, Hemant said that in the year 2016, the then Haryana Legislative Assembly enacted Haryana State Legislature (Prevention of Disqualification) Amendment Act, 2016 where instead of the term Chief Whip as belonging to the ruling dispensation, the term used therein is Government Chief Whip.
At that time i.e. during term of previous 13th Haryana Vidhan Sabha, Gian Chand Gupta, then BJP MLA from Panchkula Assembly Constituency and who is currently Speaker of 14th Haryana Vidhan Sabha was then named as Government Chief Whip by the then Manohar Lal Khattar led first BJP Government in the State and was even conferred the Status of Minister of State.
However, as far as both Houses of Parliament are concerned i.e. neither in Lok Sabha nor or in Rajya Sabha, there is no post with the nomenclature Government Chief Whip as declared by the ruling NDA or Modi Sarkar.
Apart from ruling BJP, the Principal Opposition Party i.e. Congress and all other Opposition Parties/Groups in both Houses of Parliament have their own Chief Whips, quips Hemant.
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