The Niti Aayog has suggested a synchronised two-phase Lok Sabha and assembly polls from 2024 so as to ensure minimum ‘campaign-mode’ disruption to governance.
Outlining the details, the policy think-tank has said implementing the proposal may necessitate “a maximum one-time curtailment or extension of some state assemblies”.
It has made the Election Commission the nodal agency to look into the suggestion and recommended setting up of a working group of stakeholders for deciding a road-map for synchronised elections.
A report in this regard need to be finalised within six months and final blue-print will be ready by next March, as per draft three-year action agenda for 2017-18 to 2019-20.
The draft report was circulated among the Governing Council members (consisting of chief ministers of all states and others) of the Niti Aayog on April 23.
The recommendation assumes significance as President Pranab Mukherjee and Prime Minister Narendra Modi have pitched for simultaneous Lok Sabha and assembly polls.
“All elections in India should happen in a free, fair and synchronised manner so as to cause minimum ‘campaign-mode’ disruption to governance. We may begin work towards switching to a synchronised two-phase election from the 2024 election to the Lok Sabha,” the Niti Aayog draft report says. This would require a maximum one-time curtailment or extension of some state assemblies, it said.
“To implement this in the national interest, a focused group of stakeholders comprising constitution and subject matter experts, think-tanks, government officials and representatives of various political parties should be formed to work out appropriate implementation-related details.
“This may include drafting appropriate Constitution and statutory amendments, agreeing on a workable framework to facilitate transition to simultaneous elections, developing a stakeholder communication plan and various operational details,” the draft report says. Mukherjee in his speech on the eve of this year’s Republic Day had favoured holding Lok Sabha and assembly elections together.
“The time is also ripe for a constructive debate on electoral reforms and a return to the practice of the early decades after Independence when elections to Lok Sabha and state assemblies were held simultaneously.
“It is for the Election Commission to take this exercise forward in consultation with political parties,” the president had said. Modi had in February made a strong pitch for simultaneous elections.
“It (simultaneous polls) will cause some loss to all, including us,” he had said, and asked political parties to not look at the idea through narrow the prism of politics.
“One party or a government cannot do it. We will have to find a way together,” he had said.
Elections are being held all the time somewhere or else in the country and continuous elections lead to lot of expenditure, Modi had said replying to the debate in the Lok Sabha on the Motion of Thanks to the President’s address. The prime minister had said over Rs 1,100 crore was spent in holding the 2009 Lok Sabha polls and the expenditure shot up to Rs 4,000 crore in 2014. He had said that over a crore government employees, including a lot of teachers, are involved in electoral process and the continuous exercise thus causes maximum harm to the education sector.
Security forces also have to be diverted for electoral works across the year even while enemy country keeps plotting against the nation and terrorism remains a strong threat, Modi had said.