Source: The Hitavada      Date: 21 Jan 2018 10:33:04

THE idea of holding simultaneous Lok Sabha and Assembly elections, floated by the Prime Minister Mr. Narendra Modi and supported by his party colleagues, needs to be debated seriously in order to build a consensus on the crucial issue. Mr. Modi, who has been pushing for the proposal for long, has once again raised the issue during an interview to a television channel.

The reasons given by Mr. Modi for this move are worth giving a serious thought. India being a large country, some or the other election always goes on in some or the other part of the country throughout the year, keeping security forces, bureaucracy and political machinery permanently in election mode, besides entailing huge expenses on their deployment to ensure free and fair polls. If all the elections are held simultaneously, it will naturally save the time and money.

If the Government is able to build a consensus over holding simultaneous elections it will be a major electoral reform the country is yearning for since Independence. Elections give the people a right to choose the Government of their liking. And, the performance of the Government of the day is judged on the basis of its performance.

But elections also prove to be a big impediment in the implementation of developmental projects. Because of the Model Code of Conduct, which comes into effect from the date of announcement of election dates till the results are declared, the hands of the Government are tied till the outcome of the election, which many times takes months.

The Model Code is necessary because it provides a level playing field for all the contestants entering the poll arena, ensuring fair chances of victory to all. But if elections to several bodies right from Panchayat to Parliament take place one after another, then there is little time left for the party in power to show its performance to the voters when next elections become due after the completion of its term.

Though the idea of holding simultaneous elections sound good, it won’t be that easy to implement the decision across the country right at the start. Because, the Government will also have to take into account complex situations arising out of the passing of the no confidence motions in various elected civic bodies, dissolution of the House etc, besides aligning dates of all local body elections across the country, which have different dates of completion of their terms. Besides all these hurdles, the other big challenge will be of building a consensus among all the political parties over the proposal.

Given the present political atmosphere in the country, where the behaviour of the Opposition parties is far from being a responsible one, building a consensus will be difficult if not impossible. Because, the Opposition leaders look at every decision of the Government through a jaundiced eye.

Even though the idea is mooted with a view to save time, money and energy of all the people involved in the electoral process, there is a likelihood of it being opposed tooth and nail, just because it has been initiated by the BJP leaders. The Government should therefore, reach out to the Opposition leaders and try to remove all their misgivings. The countrymen should also be taken into full confidence. If everything goes well, then nothing like it.