Electoral Reforms In India

[op-ed snap] Mission impossible: Simultaneous Elections


Mains Paper 2: Polity | Appointment to various Constitutional posts, powers, functions and responsibilities of various Constitutional Bodies

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Read the attached story

Mains level: The government is seriously considering the option of simultaneous elections. The newscard explains why this idea is not feasible.


Law commission recommendations on simultaneous elections

  1. The Commission has released a three-page summary of its draft working paper, setting out the amendments that may be required in the Constitution and electoral laws
  2. It proposes to put together a report to forward to the Centre after getting the views of the public
  3. It also suggests that premature dissolution of the House could be avoided if all members sit together and elect a leader
  4. This would entail a temporary waiver of the anti-defection law so that members could help form a stable government without the fear of disqualification
  5. However, these are reforms that can be adopted even if simultaneous elections are not held

Why is simultaneous elections a good idea?

  1. In principle, simultaneous elections to the Lok Sabha and State Assemblies have the benefits of saving poll expenditure
  2. And helping ruling parties focus on governance instead of being constantly in election mode

The idea of simultaneous elections is nearly impossible

  1. It is nearly impossible to implement simultaneous elections,
  2. as it would mean arbitrarily curtailing or extending the term of existing legislatures to bring their election dates in line with the due date for the rest of the country
  3. This would be the most difficult change to execute, as such a measure would undermine federalism as well as representative democracy

Solutions suggested by the Law Commission

  1. The Commission has suggested an alternative: categorise States based on proximity to the next general election, and have one round of State Assembly polls with the next Lok Sabha election, and another round for the remaining States 30 months later
  2. This would mean that India would have a set of elections every two and a half years
    But the solutions may not be feasible
  3. Because governments have been brought down or have collapsed on their own, leading to mid-term polls in different States and even at the Centre in different years
  4. Given the difficulties involved in shifting to simultaneous elections, we may have to live with the reality that some part of the country will go to polls every few months
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