BJP seeks its CMs’ views on simultaneous Lok Sabha and assembly elections
The chief ministers from the BJP will submit their responses to the party and will discuss it, among other things, at a day-long meeting at the party’s newly-built headquarters in New Delhi on February 28.Updated: Feb 21, 2018 07:30 IST
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has sought its chief ministers’ opinion on holding simultaneous election for the Lok Sabha and state assemblies, a party leader aware of the development said.
The Chief Ministers (CMs) will submit their responses to the party and will discuss it, among other things, at a day-long meeting at the party’s newly-built headquarters in New Delhi on February 28. The convention will be addressed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and party president Amit Shah. The BJP has 13 CMs, and it rules five more states with allies.
The BJP leadership has told the CMs that it sees several benefits, such as being able to keep corruption in check, make best use of security forces and save public money, with the implementation of the One-Nation-One-Election idea.
“The CMs have been asked if they concur with the BJP’s position,” the leader said.
They have also been asked to enumerate other benefits they may see. The alleviation of agrarian distress farmers and the progress made by BJP government in executing flagship schemes will also be discussed at the meeting. This stock-taking comes at a time when BJP has lost two bypolls in Rajasthan, faces a tough challenge in Karnataka and is preparing to battle anti-incumbency in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhatisgarh towards the end of the year.
The fresh push to the idea of simultaneous election will add to speculation about the government timing the Lok Sabha election, due in May 2019, with a string of state elections.
“Kuchh hai bhi toh main thode hi bata doonga. (If there is something, will I tell you?). It doesn’t work like that,” BJP President Amit Shah said in an interview to Hindustan Times last month.
The five-year term of the current Lok Sabha ends on June 3 next year, and the election to it will be held in April-May along with assembly polls in Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Odisha and Arunachal Pradesh. Haryana and Maharashtra vote in November 2019, and Jharkhand in December next year.
The BJP is exploring the possibility of simultaneous election ever since Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced his support for it at an all-party meeting in March 2016. A debate on this topic was started on the MyGov web portal in September 2016, a few days after the then President Pranab Mukherjee suggested that frequent elections and the enforcement of model code of conduct disrupts development activities.
President Ram Nath Kovind reiterated this in his January 29 speech to the joint sitting of the two houses of Parliament this year and said people were concerned about frequent elections, which have an adverse impact on the economy and development.
“Frequent elections not only impose a huge burden on human resources, but also impede the development process due to the promulgation of the model code of conduct. Therefore, a sustained debate is required on the subject of simultaneous elections and all political parties need to arrive at a consensus on this issue,” Kovind had said.
Opposition parties in general, and the Congress in particular, have, however, argued that this is not feasible, and will require a major constitutional amendment.
The first General Elections to House of People (Lok Sabha) and all State Legislative Assemblies were held simultaneously in 1951-52. That practice continued in three subsequent General Elections held in the years- 1957, 1962 and 1967. However, due to the premature dissolution of some Legislative Assemblies in 1968 and 1969 , the cycle got disrupted.
In its December 2015 report, the Parliament’s standing committee on ‘Personnel, Public Grievances, Law and Justice’ said simultaneous elections would reduce the massive expenditure incurred for conduct of separate elections every year.
“Presently, the cost of holding elections for Lok Sabha and Legislative Assemblies of States and UTs has been pegged at Rs 4500 crore by the ECI,” it said. The Lok Sabha election in 2014 was the most expensive ever, costing Rs 3426 crore, a 131% rise on the Rs 1483 crore spent in 2009 election.
First Published: Feb 21, 2018 07:25 IST