Explainer: The feasibility of holding Lok Sabha and Assembly elections simultaneously in 2024 : The Tribune India

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Explainer: The feasibility of holding Lok Sabha and Assembly elections simultaneously in 2024

Government has set up a high-level committee under former President Ram Nath Kovind to examine the feasibility of ‘one nation, one election’ concept

Explainer: The feasibility of holding Lok Sabha and Assembly elections simultaneously in 2024

Photo for representational purpose only. PTI file



Tribune Web Desk

Vibha Sharma

Chandigarh, September 2

A day after the announcement of a ‘special session’ of Parliament, the Narendra Modi Government on Thursday set up a high-level committee under former President Ram Nath Kovind to examine the feasibility of ‘one nation, one election’ concept.

Coinciding with a meeting of INDIA bloc leaders in Mumbai, the two decisions sparked off the speculation of an early Lok Sabha poll, sending the meeting called by Opposition leaders to collectively take on the BJP in 2024 somewhat off the track.

The Lok Sabha elections are scheduled for April-May 2024. Therefore, the big question is, is it possible to roll out the ‘one nation, one election’concept so fast?

Landing Opposition in ‘tizzy’?

While the setting up of the committee saw the concept close to the heart of Prime Minister Modi inch closer to becoming a reality, the timing of the decision (coinciding with the Mumbai meeting of INDIA coalition) led observers to wonder on the timing of the announcement, whether the aim was “also to throw Opposition leaders in a tizzy”.

The two-day Opposition meet ended with a resolution “to contest the forthcoming Lok Sabha elections together as far as possible”.

According to the resolution, “We, the INDIA parties, hereby resolve to contest the forthcoming Lok Sabha elections together as far as possible. Seat-sharing arrangements in different states will be initiated immediately and concluded at the earliest in a collaborative spirit of give and take.”

“The announcement of the ‘special session’ of Parliament led to the apprehension about an early Lok Sabha election which was strengthened by the announcement of the committee. There was also no official confirmation from the government side on the agenda of the ‘special session’ of Parliament,” explain observers.

The viability of the concept

According to sources, the panel has been formed to explore the viability of bringing the legislation soon, reaching out to other political parties for building a consensus and ensuring a smooth passage.

However, whether the special session just five weeks after the end of the monsoon session is for that reason is something that many members of the ruling party may also not be able to confirm.

No wonder, therefore, that several other theories and possibilities are doing the rounds,including Bills on Uniform Civil Code (UCC) and women’s reservation being among the list of agenda for the ‘special session’.

“The fact is that so far no one in the BJP has officially spoken on either the agenda of the Parliamentsession or the concept of ‘one nation, one election”, they say.

Though INDIA bloc leaders have certain apprehensions about early elections, Union Minister Pralhad Joshi had said that “there is no need to be nervous because India is the mother of democracy. I will share the agenda of the special session in a few days”.

Notably the last special session of Parliament was called in 2017 for inaugurating GST.

Observers believe there could be any number of reasons for calling this one, “including holding discussion on ‘Armrit Kaal’, the successof the G-20 Summit or India’s forays into space, possibly in the new Parliament House”.

Not a new concept

The idea of holding simultaneous polls is not a new one. Elections in Independent India were held simultaneously on at least three occasions till the premature dissolution of some Legislative Assemblies around 1968 and 1969 disrupted the practice.

As far as the BJP is concerned, PM Modi has always favoured the concept, calling continuous election cycles a financial burden and hindrance to development due to the enforcement of the Model Code of Conduct. According to BJP leaders, simultaneous electionshelp parties in power focus on governance instead of being constantly in the election mode.

Are there otherreasons?

Opposition leaders believe that the ruling BJP is hastening the process fearing the possibility of “not doing well in the upcoming Assembly elections in key states,including Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh”.

“The BJP is batting for theconceptbecause simultaneous Lok Sabha and state polls result in national issues overcoming the regional issues and the chance for the ‘Modi factor’ playing a bigger role,” many believe.

Simultaneous elections could also mean curtailing or extending the terms of existing Assemblies to bring them in line with the Lok Sabha election, measures that go against Opposition’ plans.

For regional parties it may not be the most conducive situation as they usually do well whenthe focus is on regional and local issues. However, this is not how it works always.

While a party’s performance in Assembly electionsmay impact its performance in the Lok Sabha polls, in the last General Election (2019) theBJP proved otherwise. Also, while national issues may tend to overshadow, this was not the case in the BJD-led Odisha which votes simultaneously with the Lok Sabha polls.State and national elections are fought on different sets of issues, say observers.

Implementation

Implementing the legislation will necessitate a Constitutional amendment, a process that will also require ratification by 50% states. The BJP will have no issue getting that through, but will all of this be possible intime for the 2024 elections is the big question. Implementing it will require multiple constitutional amendments in different Acts, along with political support. Many believe the special session may be a step in that direction.

Logistically, it would mean a largenumberof EVMs and VVPAT machines.

While for the BJP, it was part of the party’s 2014 Lok Sabha election manifesto,what is surprising is the suddenness inpushing it before the five state elections.

INDIA alliance leaders have described the move as an “attempt to divert attention from key issues concerning the people”.

About The Author

The Tribune Web Desk brings you the latest news, analysis and insights from the region, India and around the world. Follow the Tribune Wed Desk for not just breaking news stories but wide-ranging coverage of events.

#Lok Sabha #Narendra Modi #Ram Nath Kovind


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