Simultaneous Elections

The following article is based on my own interpretation of the said events. Any material borrowed from published and unpublished sources has been appropriately referenced. I will bear the sole responsibility for anything that is found to have been copied or misappropriated or misrepresented in the following post.

Piyush Sharma, MBA 2015-17, Vinod Gupta School of Management, IIT Kharagpur

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A debate which has taken place periodically in India is about the issue of holding the simultaneous elections to the State Legislative Assembly and the Lok Sabha. The latest to start this debate again is Prime Minister Narendra Modi. He made this suggestion and went a step ahead from what others in the past including his own senior colleague and former deputy Prime Minister L K Advani has been suggesting. Till now all of the voices are for the simultaneous elections for the Assemblies and the Lok Sabha, PM Modi included even the urban and rural local bodies. Meanwhile, the reason behind the issue getting attraction again is the report of the Standing Committee of Parliament which in December last year made the suggestion. It has made certain recommendations on how it can be done. However, political parties have divided on this move. There are various political, practical and constitutional issues relating to the enforcing a uniform election calendar in the country.

The cost of conducting elections is getting high with each passing election. This cost is being borne 3 times every 5 years currently. This not only incur cost but also affect normal daily lives of citizens. Business, district administration, movement of goods, people, security forces each itself makes a chaos. Approximately every election preparation period goes from 2-3 months. In these months’ noise pollution, black money transactions and communal disharmony goes on the curve. Ministers get busy with their promotion and rallies etc. and this affect the normal work of politicians as well.

First four general elections till 1971 were held simultaneously across the country and then the cycle broke with the advancement of Lok Sabha by 1 year. In the era of coalition politics, it is becoming very hard to survive for whole 5 years in Lok Sabha or in Legislative Assembly. Since we follow Westminster parliamentary model of democracy, it needs refinement to achieve simultaneous elections. We need to shift towards American Style system where tenure of session is fixed and if the president loses the faith of his/her supporters, there are still ways of transferring the power to the opposition. First step towards conducting simultaneous elections would be to reform our parliamentary style which in my view lacks will and courage from political parties because of the uncertainty associated with it. However convenient simultaneous elections become, they are not practical in current structure.

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