Simultaneous polls to erode federalism, Law Commission told

July 8, 2018
New DelhiL: A majority of regional parties that took part in a discussion on simultaneous polls on Sunday told the Law Commission that such an exercise would undermine the regional aspirations and erode the federal set up envisioned in the Constitution.

While a few including the Samajwadi Party and Telangana Rashtra Samiti (TRS) supported the idea of ‘one-nation-one-election’, some like the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) and Janata Dal-Secular (JD-S) questioned the sincerity of the Centre towards poll reforms.

The parties that came to see the law panel on Sunday included the DMK, Telugu Desam Party (TDP), Bodoland People’s Front (BPF), Samajwadi Party, TRS, JD-S and AAP.

The Congress and the BJP were conspicuous by their absence on the second day of the discussions too.

Opposing the idea of simultaneous elections to Lok Sabha and the state legislatures, the TDP said the proposal was “impracticable” and “against the spirit of the Constitution and federal structure”.

“As per the Constitution, it is not possible and is impracticable. For simultaneous polls, either you have to extend or reduce the tenures of some state governments, which is against the spirit of the Constitution and federal structure,” party MP K. Ravindra Kumar said.

AAP’s Ashish Khetan, after meeting the Law Commission, said that for simultaneous polls to happen, the Constitution of India will have to be “mutilated and rewritten completely”.

“We are against the idea of the so-called one-nation-one-poll because it will turn India’s federal democracy into a managed democracy,” Khaitan said, adding that the proposal “reeked of a dictatorial mindset”.

Warning that simultaneous elections goes against the basic tenets of the Constitution, the DMK opposed the idea, saying it was unwarranted and practically not possible.

“In sum, the present proposal of the Law Commission seems to be a complete misadventure that will decimate the federal structure. I respectfully submit my party’s whole hearted opposition to the proposal,” DMK Working President M.K. Stalin said in writing.

Terming the Law Commissions consultations on simultaneous polls a “futile exercise”, the JD-S said the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party was just “testing the waters” through it with no real intentions of reforms in the electoral process.

“This is a futile exercise. In a federal democracy you cannot think of simultaneous elections. If you want poll reforms, first and foremost, there must be a ceiling on expenditure by political parties during elections. But no one’s talking about it,” JD-S spokesman Danish Ali said after the meeting.

“When we put it today before the Law Commission, they said the government had not given any reference to it and it was out of their purview. It clearly shows that the government is not sincere about electoral reforms,” he added.

The Law Commission had invited all political parties for a discussion on the idea of holding Lok Sabha and state Assembly elections at the same time. The exercise continued on the second day on Sunday.

The Samajwadi Party, the TRS and BPF, nevertheless, favoured the idea. The Janata Dal United (JD-U), too, supported the idea through a resolution in its national executive on Sunday though the party did not come to the Law Commission.

Senior Samajwadi Party leader Ramgopal Yadav said the initiative should be implemented in 2019 itself. “The SP is in favour of simultaneous polls to the Lok Sabha and the state assemblies,” Yadav said.

Supporting the proposal, B. Vinod Kumar of the TRS said: “Our party President and Telangana Chief Minister K. Chandrashekar Rao said we are strongly in favour of simultaneous elections. This can save lot of money, time and wasteful expenditure… The Chief Ministers and Prime Minister can also function for the period of five years without disturbance.”

A number of parties including the Trinamool Congress, CPI, AIADMK, Goa Forward Party (GFP) and IUML also opposed the idea in their discussion with the law panel on Saturday. The CPI-M wrote to the Law Commission on Friday opposing the idea.

The Congress, Biju Janata Dal (BJD), Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) and Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) among others are yet to appear before the law panel to articulate their views. (IANS)

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