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View of Political parties on simultaneous Lok Sabha and Assembly elections (Relevant for GS Prelims, GS Mains Paper II; Polity & Governance)

Four parties support move; BJP, Congress stay away from consultations

Political parties were divided on the issue of holding simultaneous Lok Sabha and Assembly elections during consultations with the Law Commission of India.

As many as nine parties expressed their reservations while four parties supported the move.

The two major national parties — the BJP and the Congress — stayed away from the Law Commission’s deliberations. The BJP has, however, written to the Law Commission Chairman, Justice B.S. Chauhan, stating that Prime Minister Narendra Modi has always argued in favour of simultaneous polls and sought time to submit their detailed response later.

Justice Chauhan is learnt to have asked that all representations be submitted by July 31.

The Congress said it would firm up its stand on the issue only after talking to allies and other political parties.

Simultaneous elections of Lok Sabha and Legislative Assemblies

A draft white paper released by the Law Commission of India 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.

History

The commission says simultaneous elections were held in the country during the first two decades after Independence up to 1967. Dissolution of certain Assemblies in 1968 and 1969 followed by the dissolution of the Lok Sabha led to the “disruption of the conduct of simultaneous elections.” The panel refers to a January 2017 working paper of the NITI Aayog on simultaneous elections.

Solutions

The white paper contains a series of “possible recommendations” of the commission.

1. The first among these is that “simultaneous elections 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.”

2. 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.

3. Citing no-confidence motion and premature dissolution of House as major roadblocks to simultaneous elections, the commission says the parties which introduce the no-confidence motion should simultaneously give a suggestion for an alternative government.

4. It even suggests the relaxation of the “rigours” of the anti-defection law in the Tenth Schedule to prevent a stalemate in the Lok Sabha or Assemblies in case of a hung Parliament or Assembly.

5. The panel says that in case of mid-term elections, the new Lok Sabha or Assembly would only serve the remainder of the term of the previous Lok Sabha/Assembly and not a fresh term of five years.

6. The commission says the Centre should get the Constitutional amendments, if agreed upon, to be ratified by all the States so as to avoid any challenge to them.

7. It also says that the Prime Minister/Chief Minister should be “elected” to lead by the full House like the Lok Sabha Speaker.

(Adapted from The Hindu)



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