Centre bats for simultaneous polls, lists 'imperatives'

Before the proposal is implemented, it would also require obtaining the consensus of all political parties
Last Updated : 17 March 2023, 21:03 IST

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The government on Friday told the Lok Sabha that simultaneous Lok Sabha and state assemblies elections would save the public exchequer a significant amount of taxpayers' money.

Union Law Minister Kiren Rijiju said a parliamentary panel's recommendations on the issue had been referred to the Law Commission for further examination to work out a practicable road map and framework for simultaneous elections. The minister said that simultaneous polls would bring considerable savings to political parties and candidates in their election campaigns.

"Further, asynchronous Lok Sabha and Legislative Assembly elections (including by-election) result in prolonged enforcement of Model Code of Conduct with its concomitant adverse impact on developmental and welfare programmes," the minister said.

Rijiju said the change would require amendments in "not less than five" articles of the Constitution - article 83 relating to the duration of Houses of Parliament, article 85 relating to dissolution of Lok Sabha by the President, article 172 relating to the duration of the state legislatures, article 174 pertaining to dissolution of the state legislatures, and article 356 relating to the imposition of President's Rule in the states.

Before the proposal is implemented, it would also require obtaining the consensus of all political parties. "Having regard to the federal structure of our system of governance, it is imperative that consensus of all state governments is also obtained," the minister pointed out.

He said it would also require an additional number of electronic voting machines and VVPATs (paper trail machines), "which would cost a huge amount, might be in thousands of crores (of rupees)." "Considering that the life of a machine is only 15 years, this would imply that machine would be used for about three or four times in its life span, entailing huge expenditure in its replacement after every 15 years". He also flagged the need for additional polling personnel and security forces.

Rijiju said the department-related Parliamentary standing committee on Personnel, Public Grievances, Law and Justice, in its 79th report, had highlighted that in South Africa, elections to national as well as provincial legislatures are held simultaneously for five years, and municipal elections are held two years later.

In Sweden, elections to the national legislature (Riksdag) and provincial legislature/county council (landsting) and local bodies/municipal assemblies (Kommunfullmaktige) are held on a fixed date -- second Sunday in September for four years. In the UK, the term of Parliament is governed by the Fixed-term Parliament Act, 2011, he said.

Published 17 March 2023, 10:40 IST

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