UPSC PRELIMS 2019: What’s a ‘whip’, and what does it do?

What’s a whip and what does it do

Topic : What’s a ‘whip’, and what does it do?

Topic in Syllabus: Indian Governance



What’s a whip and what does it do

Amid a looming trust vote in the Karnataka Assembly, former chief minister Siddaramaiah appealed to postpone the motion of confidence as the Supreme Court’s decision did not shed light on his rights to issue a whip.


What is a whip?

  • A whip in parliamentary parlance is a written order that party members be present for an important vote, or that they vote only in a particular way.
  • The term is derived from the old British practice of “whipping in” lawmakers to follow the party line.
  • In India all parties can issue a whip to their members.
  • Parties appoint a senior member from among their House contingents to issue whips — this member is called a Chief Whip, and he/she is assisted by additional Whips.


Kinds of whips

A whip can be classified into three types, based on the number of times it has been underlined.

One-line whip

  • A one-line whip, which is underlined once, is issued by the party to inform its members of an important vote in the pipeline, so that a quorum can be established. (A quorum is the minimum number of legislators that need to be present do that a vote can be held.)
  • A one-line whip allows the legislators to abstain from voting if they decide to go against the party line. However, they cannot, under any circumstance, vote against the party.

Two-line whip

  • A two-line whip, which is underlined twice, demands that party members be present in the House at the time of voting.
  • Abstention from voting, in this case, invites more scrutiny from party’s high command as compared to a one-line whip.

Three-line whip

  • A three-line whip, which is underlined thrice, is the gravest of the whips.
  • This places the party members under an obligation to toe the party line and is usually employed when critical bills are tabled in the House or during a motion of no-confidence.


What happens if a legislator does not follow the whip?

  • Defying a three-line whip can not only lead to expulsion of the member from the party, but also risk his/her membership in the House.
  • Under the Tenth Schedule of the Constitution of India, the Speaker of the House can disqualify a member who goes against the party line under the anti-defection law.
  • The only exception is when more than one-third members decide to vote against the directive.


Functions of Whip

  • The whip plays a crucial role in ensuring the smooth and efficient conduct of business on the floor of the House.
  • He is charged with the responsibility of ensuring the attendance of his party members in large numbers and securing their support in favour of or against a particular issue.
  • He ensures discipline among party members in the House.
  • He identifies the signs of discontent among MPs and informs the respective leaders of their party.
  • He or she acts as a binding force in the party and responsible for maintaining the internal party organisation in the Parliament and.


Violation of whip:

  • If an MP violates his party’s whip, he faces expulsion from the House under the Anti Defection Act.
  • The only exception is when more than a third of legislators vote against a directive, effectively splitting the party.


Sample Question:

The office of the ‘Whip’ is mentioned in:

a. Constitution of India.

b. Rules of the house.

c. In a separate Parliamentary Statute.

d. None


Answer: d