Many voices

Many voices

Even as the Law Commission holds consultations on the feasibility of simultaneous elections to the Lok Sabha and the state legislatures, the Opposition slammed the proposal on Sunday

Opposition flays idea of holding simultaneous polls

New Delhi: Even as the Law Commission holds consultations on the feasibility of simultaneous elections to the Lok Sabha and the state legislatures, the Opposition slammed the proposal on Sunday.

This comes after the proposal came under attack from the Trinamool Congress (TMC) and the Communist Party of India (CPI), both of which attended the consultation on Saturday. The BJP and Congress stayed away from the process on the first day.

The DMK of Tamil Nadu firmly opposed the idea of simultaneous polls, terming the Law Commission's proposal "a complete misadventure that will decimate the federal structure." DMK working president MK Stalin said an earlier Law Commission during the tenure of AB Vajpayee as prime minister in 1999 reported on the issue exhaustively.

The DMK was of "the firm opinion that the proposed call for simultaneous elections to Lok Sabha and state legislatures goes against the basic tenets of our Constitution and established principles of democratic functioning," he said.

AIADMK opposed Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s idea of simultaneous elections stating that current Tamil Nadu Legislative Assembly should be allowed to complete its full tenure till 2021.

Even Sharad Pawar’s NCP too rejected the Law Commission’s move to hold simultaneous polls. Speaking to mediapersons on Sunday, senior JD(U) leader KC Tyagi gave a guarded statement in support of simultaneous polls. He said, "We are in the favour of simultaneous elections, but we don't think it will be easy to conduct them. However, we cannot oppose it as it is a step towards less expensive elections, curbing black money and better governance."

The TRS too voiced its support for the idea, with its president and Chief Minister K Chandrashekhar Rao stating in a letter to the Law Commission, "TRS is strongly in favour of holding simultaneous elections to the Lok Sabha and the state Legislative Assemblies."

The TDP, which supported Prime Minister Narendra Modi's idea of simultaneous polls when it was a constituent of the BJP-led NDA, opposed the idea of holding simultaneous polls saying the move was only to weaken regional parties.

Terming it as a gameplan of national parties to decimate the regional parties, the TDP claimed that it was opposing simultaneous elections to safeguard the "federal system." "The BJP has turned into a political shark. It's trying to live by preying on smaller fish," Finance Minister Yanamala Ramakrishnudu said.

The TDP has also pointed out that the Election Commission might face a problem of voting machines with VVPAT facility, if simultaneous polls were held. The TDP said 7.5 million machines would be required and it would involve huge expenditure. As the Election Commission has only 1.9 mn EVMs, the TDP suggested use of ballot paper.

Akhilesh Yadav-led Samajwadi Party (SP) has also backed the proposal to hold simultaneous elections. "Samajwadi Party is in favour of simultaneous elections, but they should begin from 2019. In case public representatives switch sides or indulge in horse trading, action should be taken against them within a week," SP leader Ram Gopal Yadav said.

While BJP’s Goa ally Goa Forward Party (GFP) rejected the proposal outright, its other ally Shiromani Akali Dal lent unequivocal support. Party MP Naresh Gujral said it will save expenditure and keep the focus on governance. GFP chief Vijay Sardesai said simultaneous polls will impact regional parties and relegate state-specific issues.

Rejecting the idea of simultaneous polls, the Aam Aadmi Party said that such a system would turn India into a "managed democracy". AAP leader Ashish Khetan, who appeared before the Law Commission, said after the meet: "We are against the idea of the so-called one-nation-one-poll because it will turn India's federal democracy into a managed democracy."

The Trinamool Congress (TMC) said that holding polls at the Centre and states at the same time was against the basic provisions of the Constitution. TMC MP Kalyan Banerjee represented the party at the consultations by the Law Commission. "The party strongly opposes the concept floated by the BJP government as it is highly impractical and against the provisions of the Constitution," he said.

The Lok Sabha member said those who framed the Constitution, including BR Ambedkar, never spoke or suggested anything about the "one nation, one election". "They gave us a federal structure.

The central government is not superior compared to the states," he said. In his letter to the commission, CPM general secretary Sitaram Yechury listed the party's objections to the proposal stating that it goes beyond the ambit of law reform entailing major amendments to Constitution and would run against both the "letter and spirit of our Constitution".

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