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The Big Picture – Simultaneous Elections: Is it Legally and Practically Possible?

  • April 13, 2016
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The Big Picture – Simultaneous Elections: Is it Legally and Practically Possible?

 

The issue of holding simultaneous elections has been debated periodically in this country. With recent holding of elections in Assam, West Bengal, Tamil Nadu the debate has resurfaced again about the feasibility of holding such elections.  The article deals with the issues associated with holding simultaneous elections.

The issue gained traction when the parliamentary standing committee in Dec 2015 submitted a report on holding such simultaneous elections to Lok Sabha and state assemblies.

Need for holding such simultaneous elections as per the standing committee recommendations

  • Reduce the massive expenditure that is currently incurred for the conduct of separate elections.
  • Reduce the policy paralysis that results from the imposition of the Model Code of Conduct during election time.
  • Reduce the impact on delivery of essential services.
  • Reduce the burden on crucial manpower that is deployed during election time.

Recommendations of standing committee

  • Elections of legislative assemblies whose term ends six months after the general elections to Lok Sabha can be clubbed together.
  • In order to hold early elections to Lok Sabha and state legislative assemblies, a motion for an early general election or a no confidence motion must be passed by the House.
  • Elections could be held in two phases. It stated that elections to some Legislative Assemblies could be held during the midterm of Lok Sabha. Elections to the remaining legislative assemblies could be held with the end of Lok Sabha?s term.

Concerns:

  • Experts believe that proposal could be motivated by political considerations, as when simultaneous elections are held voters tend to vote for the same party.
  • Low awareness among voters creates the tendency for voters to get carried away by wave theory( If there is a wave in the favour of the Union that that would continue for the States, at least that seems to be the motivation for him)
  • According to article 83(2) states have the prerogative to decide when to call for elections, But in doing it for conduct of simultaneous elections, they would be misusing the Constitution.
  • The state assemblies can be dissolved at any time without completing the fixed term, then the idea of holding simultaneous elections cannot be a reality all the time.
  • If simultaneous elections are held politicians will visit voters only once in five yearsàVoters cannot hold politicians accountable à less efficiency.

Benefits:

  • Gives boost to the economy, create more jobs.
  • Prevent local and national issues from getting mixed up in the minds of the voters.
  • At present 700 to 800 companies of paramilitary forces are required, holding simultaneous elections will increase the number of paramilitary forces required to conduct the elections, àmore recruitment àJob creationà Better enforcement in troubled areas.

The idea/rationale of holding simultaneous elections may seem to be good on paper but practically impossible to achieve due to various issues mentioned above. This proposal is a non starter for a country like India whose entire democratic setup is different than other western countries which follow the model of holding simultaneous elections. Nevertheless the Standing Committee noted that relief from frequent elections was “important for India if it is to compete with other nations in developmental agenda” there needs be more debate on improving processes of conducting the elections than changing the way we conduct elections  and need to evolve  consensus over the issue.

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