Shah pitches for simultaneous polls before law panel (Lead)
New Delhi : Upping the ante on the demand for simultaneous Assembly and Lok Sabha polls, BJP President Amit Shah has told the Law Commission that it will lead to cuts in the otherwise huge expenses borne on holding elections at present.
He also rejected the objections by different opposition parties that the idea of "One Nation, One Election" will be against the basic structure of the Indian federal system. "In fact, it will strengthen the federal structure in India," Shah said.
In his letter to the law panel, handed over to the law panel by a party delegation headed by Union Minister M.A. Naqvi on Monday, Shah said that a perpetual electoral process strained national resources and that in a progressive democracy like India developmental work and policy decisions get halted when the Model Code of Conduct was enforced ahead of the elections.
"There is no relation between the Lok Sabha and Assembly elections. Voters vote on different issues in both polls. Therefore, we must have faith and trust in the voters," he said.
Shah said that criticism of the Bharatiya Janata Party's "One Nation, One Election" idea was "baseless" and done for political reasons.
He said that due to elections in one state or the other throughout the year, work of both the state and central governments get affected.
Simultaneous elections, he said, would lead to a reduction in election expenditure.
The BJP delegation that met Law Commission Chairman Justice B.S. Chauhan said that necessary amendments to the Constitution should take place to realise the "One Nation, One Election" idea.
"There are over 9.30 lakh poll booths and over one crore workers are posted during polls. As many as Rs 4,000 crore was spent in 2014 general elections. 'One Nation, One Election' will reduce this cost. This exercise has been successful in several countries," BJP MP Bhupendra Yadav said.
Citing the example of Maharashtra, he said, due to elections for 307 out of 365 days in 2016, the Model Code of Conduct was in force in different parts the state.
"There should be a debate on the issue and after unanimous support from all political parties, the Representation of the People Act should be amended," he said.
He was speaking to reporters after the BJP delegation, which included Vinay Sahasrabuddhe and Yadav and party spokesperson Anil Baluni, met the law panel.
The Congress has opposed the idea before the law panel, saying it was against the basic structure of the Indian federal system.
It also said that ending or extending the terms of assemblies was also against the basic structure of the Indian political system.
The Law Commission has held discussions on the issue last month, with most of those opposed to the proposal saying that it was against the Constitution and will dilute regional interests.
Besides the Congress, the proposal has been opposed by the Trinamool Congress, DMK, Janata Dal-Secular, Aam Aadmi party, CPI and IUML. The AIADMK, which is perceived to be close to the BJP, and BJP ally Goa Forward Party, have also opposed it.
The Law Commission had written to recognised national and state parties to participate in the consultation on simultaneous polls.
The Congress and the BJP preferred to stay away from the discussion. Later, a Congress delegation met the Law Commission and presented it views.
The Law Commission had come out with a draft white paper in April on simultaneous elections, which contained its possible recommendations.
It said that simultaneous elections may be resumed by amending the Constitution, Representation of the People Act of 1951 and the Rules of Procedure of the Lok Sabha and Assemblies.
It said that elections in 2019 could be held in phases, with some states going to the polls along with the Lok Sabha polls and the others in 2024.
Another proposal was that parties which introduce a no-confidence motion should simultaneously give a suggestion for an alternative government.