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Simultaneous elections

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has expressed the desire that elections to the Lok Sabha and to the State Assemblies should be held simultaneously. That will save money. Besides, the delay in holding elections in accordance to the model code conduct in different states at different times hampers governance. The Election Commission has supported the Prime Minister. But simultaneous elections depend on two conditions. All political parties have to agree. Moreover, the Constitution and the Representative of the People Act have to be amended to give constitutional approval to the decision. Simultaneous elections can be held six months after the amendments. But a large number of EVMs and voter verifiable paper audit trail machines will be ready by 2019. Separate machines will be required for the Lok Sabha and assembly elections. How much money will be saved?

The decision cannot be implemented all at once. Some political parties have nixed the idea. But it will of course remedy the evil of arbitrary President’s rule. The West Bengal government has no reason to go to the polls before 2021. What happens when a government has not been able to complete its term? Those assemblies completing their term in 2019 are also exceptions. Lack of trust is most important. The BJP forcibly grabbed power in Manipur and Goa. Security is another concern. Security personnel according to the Prime Minister should not be distracted more than once. But are there enough personnel for simultaneous elections? To decide on an issue of such great import requires that the matter be carefully thought through. A sudden decision could be cataclysmic.

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