Simultaneous elections against federalism: Stalin

DMK working president M.K. Stalin on Sunday justified the opposition to the proposal to conduct simultaneous elections to the Lok Sabha and State Assemblies, saying that it was against the basic tenets of the Constitution and the established principles of democratic governance.

In a letter to Justice B.S. Chauhan, Chairman, Law Commission of India, he said the proposal seemed to be a complete misadventure that would decimate the federal structure.

Reacting to the Working Paper published in this regard by the Commission, Mr. Stalin said it had lot of discrepancies. He said there were problems in synchronising the elections to the State legislatures with the 2019 and 2024 Lok Sabha polls as envisaged in paragraph 11.

The DMK leader added that the Working Paper did not consider that the Lok Sabha could also be dissolved before its five-year tenure. “If such a situation were to arise, it is unclear whether all legislative Assemblies will also be dissolved to synchronise the electoral process again,” he wondered.

Panel’s earlier report

Mr. Stalin said the Law Commission, when A.B. Vajpayee was the Prime Minister, studied and reported on the very same issue in its 170th Report in 1999, but no action had been taken upon its recommendations.

“Meanwhile, the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Personnel, Public Grievances, Law and Justice (consisting of all major political parties from across the country), in its 79th Report in 2015, has concluded that ‘gaining consensus of all political parties may be difficult’ and that holding simultaneous elections may not be feasible in 2016 or even in a decade,” he said.

Mr. Stalin also questioned the rationale behind conducting simultaneous elections considering the massive expenditure involved.

“Procurement of EVMs and VVPATs alone for conducting simultaneous elections would cost about Rs. 10,000 crore (recurring every 15 years).

“ The entire expenditure borne by the Central government for conducting general elections in 2014, meanwhile, was only Rs. 3,870 crore or roughly, Rs. 45 per elector. It is not clear how spending thousands of crores more would be more efficient,” he said.

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