EC Says It is Prepared To Conduct Simultaneous Poll To LS & Assemblies By Next September

October 5th, 2017 | by Pranab Kumar Chakravarty
EC Says It is Prepared To Conduct Simultaneous Poll To LS & Assemblies By Next September


THE Election Commission of India has literally caught all the political parties off guard declaring it is in a position to conduct simultaneous parliamentary and assembly elections by September 2018. Although several ex-Chief Election Commissioners had favoured such a move, ruling parties did not evince interest until PM Narendra Modi has publicly bated for holding simultaneous Lok Sabha and assembly poll and took it up at the all party meeting convened by the Lok Sabha Speaker on the eve of the Winter Session of Parliament. Besides, the Central government has initiated a public discussion on concurrent elections to the central and state legislature on an official portal. The then President Pranab Mukherjee while interacting with students on the Teachers’ Day on 5 September 2016 endorsed the idea for synchronized poll. He had opined that due to some elections almost throughout the year, Central and state governments’ normal activities including development projects are stalled under the Model Code of Conduct in addition to delaying the presentation of budgets. Political leadership is not unaware of the fact. The suggestion should be considered by concerned people, he said. The first elections together were held from 1952 to 1967.  In 1971, Indira Gandhi dissolved the Lok Sabha and advanced the Lok Sabha elections by a year and synchronised elections fell apart. Then there were a spate of unstable governments at both the Centre and the states which caused early dissolution of the Lok Sabha or State Legislative Assemblies. The situation today is such that almost every year, some state elections are conducted. In 1952, when the first national election for the Lok Sabha and  the state assemblies were held, as per the Election Commission’s data, about Rs 10 crore were spent. In the subsequent two elections in 1957 and 1962 the expenditure came down to almost 6 crore and 7.5 crore respectively. Since 1977, the expenditure is going up .It doubled to more than Rs 23 crore compared to 11.5 crore in 1971. In 1980, it more than doubled — to Rs 54 crore. By 1989, it went up by three times to Rs 154 crore. Just two years later, the expenses shot up to Rs 359 crore. In 1996, it had reached Rs 600 crore mark. Three years later, in 1999, the Election Commission spent Rs 880 crore. By 2004, it had shot up to Rs 1300 crore. The provisional estimate tells us that the conduct of 2014 Lok Sabha elections was about Rs 3500 crore. Can we allow outgo of such enormous funds from the national exchequer when most parts of the country remain deprived of basic amenities? Elections cannot and should not be avoided as these are part and parcel of our functioning democracy since 1952.But wasteful expenditure of public money should not be allowed. After ECI has expressed its ability and willingness to conduct simultaneous elections, political parties should endorse the proposal. It is hoped the Govt will take initiative in arriving at a consensus among the concerned people on the issue as citizens besides student community will also benefit. Schedules for various exams and interviews as well as no ongoing projects will be affected.The announcement by the poll panel came days after it issued a formal direction that VVPAT meaning Verifiable Paper Audit Trail machines will be used at polling stations in all future elections where polls are held using EVMs.Voters will be ensured that they have voted for candidates for their choice but will not be allowed to take it since under the law secrecy and privacy of all electorates should be preserved. “The Election Commission was asked by the Central government as what it would require for holding parliamentary and assembly polls together. The Election Commission informed the GOI for funds to purchase new EVMs and VVPAT machines. The ECI would be logistically equipped by next September to conduct Lok Sabha and assembly polls together, Election Commissioner O P Rawat told media people at Bhopal on Wednesday  while answering a query .Earlier, The Election Commission had unveiled the Electoral Registration Officer (ERO) network. Rawat said the commission has already placed the order for the purchase of new EVMs and VVPAT machines after receiving funds from the Centre. He said the poll body would get 40 lakh VVPAT machines by September 2018.VVPAT is a machine which dispenses a slip with the symbol of the party for which a person has voted for.




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