BJP tells law panel it backs simultaneous polls

A BJP delegation led by Minorities Affairs Minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi met the Law Commission chairman in New Delhi. (PTI File Photo)

The BJP on Monday informed the Law Commission its support for conducting simultaneous elections to the Lok Sabha and state assemblies, a pet idea of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

A BJP delegation led by Minorities Affairs Minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi met Law Commission Chairman Justice B S Chauhan to convey the party's stand on the issue on which there is a divide in the political spectrum. The other members of the delegations included senior leaders Vinay Sahasrabudde, Bhupender Yadav and Anil Baluni.

Modi and the BJP are pushing for simultaneous polls, arguing that continuous elections in the country is a wastage of resources - financial and human. Modi has raised the issue several times in the past couple of years and the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Personnel, Public Grievances, Law and Justice, too, recommended such a measure in December 2015.

"Separate elections affect stability, governance, administration and stands as a hurdle in attending to peoples' grievances simultaneously, bringing down economic growth because of the enforcement of the Model Code of Conduct during elections," a private members' resolution submitted in the Rajya Sabha by Yadav had earlier stated.

However, there is a stiff opposition from a number of UPA and NDA parties. Among those opposed to the idea are the Congress, AIADMK, Goa Forward Party, DMK, CPM, CPI, Forward Bloc, AAP, Trinamool Congress, JD(S), AIMIM and the TDP.

The AIADMK had earlier said that it was fine with the idea but it should not be implemented till 2021 state Assembly elections. However, later they changed the stand and began to oppose the idea.

Besides the BJP, those who support the idea include the BJD, JD(U), SP, TRS, YSR Congress and the Akali Dal. Bihar Chief Minister and JD(U) chief Nitish Kumar, while supporting the idea, however, had said it would be difficult to implement the ambitious plan even by 2024.

The Congress, on the other hand, contended that simultaneous elections is yet another "preposterous suggestion by a narcissist and self-centred" government under Modi.

"The provisions of the Constitution of India… read with provisions of the Representation of People Acts (1950 and 1951) will make it abundantly clear that the exercise that you intend to undertake is unconstitutional, undemocratic and forbidden by law,” the Congress conveyed to the Law Commission in a note.

"Simple outcome of ‘Compulsory Simultaneous Polls’ is to deny the people of India right of ‘electing their government and representative’. The Federal structure of our polity would stand decimated by such an authoritarian and autocratic step," party spokesperson Abhishek Singhvi had earlier said.

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BJP tells law panel it backs simultaneous polls

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