Parliament committee for simultaneous Lok Sabha, Assembly polls

New Delhi(PTI): A Parliamentary Committee has made a strong pitch for holding of simultaneous assembly and Lok Sabha elections all over the country, suggesting that it can be done in the near future. But most of the political parties which responded to the Standing Committee’s questionnaire have said the idea is a “noble” one but “difficult to implement”. “The Committee does not feel that simultaneous election in every five year cannot be held in the near future but slowly it would reach in stages for which tenure of some of the state legislative assemblies need to be curtailed or extended,” the Standing Committee on Law and personnel said in its report ‘Feasibility of holding simultaneous elections to Lok Sabha and state legislative assemblies’. The report was tabled in Parliament today.

While as per electoral law, elections can be held six months prior to the end of the term of a House, the term of the House cannot be extended except during proclamation of Emergency. The committee has recommended an “alternative and practicable method” of holding simultaneous elections which involves holding of polls in two phases. The panel has envisaged holding of elections of some assemblies at midterm of Lok Sabha and remaining with the end of tenure of Lok Sabha.

It said the “proposed first phase” could be held in November, 2016. Elections to all state assemblies whose terms end prior to or after a time period of six months to one year from the appointed election date can be clubbed together. “The terms of some legislative assemblies may need to be extended while some of them may need to be curtailed,” it said. It admitted that gaining consensus of all political parties may be difficult in certain states.
“However, in the larger context of economic development and implementation of election promises without creation of the impediments due to enforcement of Model Code of Conduct as a result of frequent elections, the prospects of holding simultaneous elections need to be weighed and deeply considered by all political parties,” the report said.

The AIADMK has supported the idea in principle and so has the Asom Gana Parishad. The SAD said it supports the idea but has doubts on certain issues like mandate delivering a hung assembly. Congress and Trinamool Congress have rejected the idea saying “ideal as it may sound” it is “impractical and unworkable”. The NCP too said that the proposal is “not feasible”. The CPI said the “proposal looks ideal” but there are practical problems such as need for mid-term polls.

The Law Commission in one of its reports presented the government in 1999 had also supported the idea of simultaneous polls. Out of 16 Lok Sabhas, as many as seven elected in 1969, 1977, 1980, 1984, 1996, 1998 and 1999 saw premature dissolution due to “emergence of coalition government.”