Simultaneous Elections

A draft white paper released by the Law Commission of India on Tuesday recommends holding of simultaneous elections to the Lok Sabha and the Assemblies, possibly in 2019.

It suggests amending the Constitution to realise this objective.

In a public notice annexed to the draft, the commission, which is the government’s highest law advisory body, said the white paper would be circulated to “constitutional experts, academia, political parties, bureaucrats, students, etc.” The commission, headed by former Supreme Court judge Justice B.S. Chauhan, says opinions and suggestions should come in by May 8, 2018.

Key recommendations made by the commission in this regard:

  • It recommends that in 2019, the election could be held in phases. In the first phase, it says, elections to the legislatures which are scheduled to go for polls synchronous with the Lok Sabha in 2019 could be held together. The rest of the States could go to elections in proximity with the Lok Sabha elections of 2024.
  • Simultaneous elections in the country may be restored in the nation by amending the Constitution, Representation of the People Act of 1951 and the Rules of Procedure of the Lok Sabha and Assemblies.
  • The leader of the majority party is elected as PM or the CM by the entire house (Lok Sabha or Assembly)for stability.
  • In case a government falls midterm, the term of the new government would be for the remaining period only.
  • A no-confidence motion against the government should be followed by a confidence motion. No-confidence motion and premature dissolution of House are major roadblocks to simultaneous elections. Parties which introduce the no-confidence motion should simultaneously give a suggestion for an alternative government.
  • The “rigours” of the anti-defection law in the Tenth Schedule should be relaxed to prevent a stalemate in the Lok Sabha or Assemblies in case of a hung Parliament or Assembly.

Simultaneous elections: Is it a good idea?

  • This will help save public money.
  • It will be a big relief for political parties that are always in campaign mode.
  • It will allow political parties to focus more on policy and governance.

Need for simultaneous elections:

  • To reduce unnecessary expenditures: Elections are held all the time and continuous polls lead to a lot of expenditure. More than Rs1,100 crore was spent on the 2009 Lok Sabha polls and the expenditure had shot up to Rs4,000 crore in 2014.
  • To reduce the unnecessary use of manpower: Over a crore government employees, including a large number of teachers, are involved in the electoral process. Thus, the continuous exercise causes maximum harm to the education sector.
  • Security concerns: Security forces also have to be diverted for the electoral work even as the country’s enemy keeps plotting against the nation and terrorism remains a strong threat.
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