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Challenges to Simultaneous Elections

iasparliament
August 20, 2018
3 months
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What is the issue?

  • Organising simultaneous polls for “lok sabha and state assemblies” is an ambitious task envisioned by the election commission.
  • As it is a big a legal and logistical challenge presently, the “Chief Election Commissioner” (CEC) opined that it can’t be implemented anytime soon.

What are the challenges to organise simultaneous elections?

  • The CEC recently ruled out the possibility of holding elections to the Lok Sabha this December along with polls to the Assemblies of four States.
  • In addition to the constitutional amendment needed to extend or curtail assembly and parliamentary terms, the process also is resource intensive.
  • Simultaneous elections would need more number of “electronic voting machines” (EVMs) and voter-verifiable paper audit (VVPAT) units.
  • Moreover, ensuring the availability of VVPATs everywhere poses a logistical challenge, with dates for elections in 4 states approaching soon.
  • Further, simultaneous elections will require the use of 24 lakh EVMs, but currently the election commission has only 12 lakh EVMs.

What are the varied opinions regarding simultaneous elections? 

  • A wide political consensus, as well as legislative cooperation from various parties, is required for holding simultaneous elections.
  • It is natural that parties that control legislatures constituted in recent months or years would resist any curtailment of their tenures.
  • While those in the Opposition may prefer simultaneous polls if it means Assembly elections being advanced.
  • Significantly, BJP president Amit Shah has written to the Law Commission favouring simultaneous polls, giving a fillip to the idea.
  • The crux of the argument in favour of the concept is that the country is perpetually in election mode, resulting in lack of focus on governance.
  • The second contention is that scattered polling results in extra expenditure, which can be effectively reduced through simultaneous polls.
  • Hence, the ultimate question before India is whether altering legislative terms undermine representative democracy and federalism.
  • Considering the immense challenges, it would be far more productive for political parties to focus on basic electoral reforms to curb expenses.

 

Source: The Hindu

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