New Delhi: Favouring simultaneous Lok Sabha and assembly polls, the Election Commission (EC) on Sunday said all political parties need to be brought on board before such an exercise is carried out.
“The Election Commission has always been of the view that simultaneous elections will give enough time for incumbent government to formulate policies and implement programmes continuously for a longer time without interruptions caused by imposition of model code of conduct,” election commissioner O.P. Rawat told PTI here.
He said conducting the polls together would be possible only when necessary changes in the Constitution and Representation of the People Act are carried out. Existing legal and constitutional provisions mandates that elections are to be held within six months ahead of the end of the term of a state assembly or the Lok Sabha.
Rawat said after the constitutional and legal framework are in place, it would be feasible to seek all the logistical support and conduct simultaneous elections.
“Commission may conduct such elections after six months (after constitutional and legal changes are made),” the election commissioner said.
He said bringing all political parties on board is an imperative for holding the simultaneous polls.
The assembly elections for Andhra Pradesh, Telangana and Odisha are due in mid-2019, along with the next general polls.
Rawat said the Election Commission was in 2015 asked to give its view on the synchronised polls. “The Commission gave its views on the matter in March that year. It had suggested few steps that need to be taken before such elections are made feasible,” he said.
Rawat said it would be logistically possible to hold the elections together if sufficient time is given to the Commission. There will be requirement of 24 lakh each electronic voting machines (EVMs) and voter verifiable paper audit trail (VVPAT) Machines. “We need two set of EVMs—one for Lok Sabha and another for the assembly polls,” he said.
Rawat said orders have already been placed for more number of EVMs and VVPAT machines and new inventory ha started coming in. “The Commission would be able to get the required number of EVMs and VVPAT machines by mid 2019 or before if need be,” he said.
Rawat’s assertion assumes significance as Prime Minister Narendra Modi has already pitched for simultaneous Lok Sabha and assembly polls.
The government’s policy thinktank Niti Aayog has also favoured conducting synchronised two-phase Lok Sabha and assembly elections from 2024 in “national interest”. All elections in India should happen in a free, fair and synchronised manner to ensure minimum “campaign mode” disruption to governance, the Niti Aayog had said in its “Three Year Action Agenda, 2017-18 to 2019-20” report, released recently.
Modi had in February said simultaneous elections would “cause some loss to all, including us” but political parties should not look at the idea through the narrow prism of politics. “One party or a government cannot do it. We will have to find a way together,” the PM had said.
Elections are held all the time and continuous polls lead to a lot of expenditure, he had said replying to the debate in the Lok Sabha on the Motion of Thanks to the former President Pranab Mukherjee’s address. Modi had said that more than Rs1,100 crore was spent on the 2009 Lok Sabha polls and the expenditure had shot up to Rs4,000 crore in 2014.
Over a crore government employees, including a large number of teachers, are involved in the electoral process. Thus, the continuous exercise causes maximum harm to the education sector, he had said.
Security forces also have to be diverted for the electoral work even as the country’s enemy keeps plotting against the nation and terrorism remains a strong threat, Modi had said.