Millennium Post

‘Simultaneous polls would benefit national parties’

Simultaneous Lok Sabha and state assembly elections would benefit national parties but dwarf the role of smaller regional ones which is not a good sign for a healthy democracy, according to experts.

“Whether one acknowledges it or not, the wave factor associated with big political leaders and parties does affect the outcome in state polls. And, therefore simultaneous elections would benefit national parties, and small regional parties’ fate will be difficult.

“As a diverse country with a federal structure, the idea of holding simultaneous polls somewhat does not bode well. The presence of small parties is a manifestation of the democracy that we are, which allows voters the option to choose from,” former Chief Election Commissioner S Y Quraishi said.

He was speaking last evening at a panel discussion on ‘Simultaneous Elections Possibilities and Challenges’ organised by the Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) here. Director at the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies (CSDS) Sanjay Kumar also said, “Elections held simultaneously are likely to benefit more the big national parties, and the role of small regional parties will be suppressed.” 

BJP has been of the view that there should be combined elections from panchayat to Parliament, with Prime Minister Narendra Modi was also keen on simultaneous Lok Sabha and Assembly polls.

President Pranab Mukherjee has also articulated that such a system could ensure political and administrative stability, as frequent elections disrupt regular functioning of the government, and that political parties could collectively take a decision on the issue.

The panelists at the event on Wednesday were largely of the view that “staggered” format of electoral exercise was in favour of the federal structure, and if at all the proposition of simultaneous elections is to be considered, an “all-party consensus” should be reached first. BJP has held that state elections coupled with local-level polls, spread across virtually every year, often “hinder” the execution of welfare measures, and Union minister M Venkaiah Naidu has said that India can pursue ‘one nation, one election’ model.

Quraishi said having simultaneous election would also increase the logistical burden, starting with the massive number of EVM machines needed, and will cost the exchequer.
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