National

Thambidurai backs simultaneous polls

M. Thambidurai

M. Thambidurai  

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LS Deputy Speaker says time and money can be saved

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s idea of simultaneous Lok Sabha and State Assembly elections has found a new proponent in senior AIADMK leader and Deputy Speaker of the Lok Sabha M. Thambidurai.

Calling himself a strong advocate of this idea, in a recent letter to Mr. Modi, he agreed that simultaneous elections would save time and money, apart from giving uninterrupted pace of governance. “To give a bright start to this idea, ‘end-February 2019 or early March 2019’, could be taken as the baseline for holding such simultaneous elections,” he wrote.

Mr. Modi and the BJP have been advocating co-terminus elections since March last year.

The majority of Opposition parties are dead against the proposal. The Trinamool Congress and the Congress have rejected it as anti-democratic and unconstitutional. The CPI and NCP have said it is “not feasible.”

The AIADMK had backed the idea even back in December 2015.

Assembly terms

Mr. Thambidurai, in his letter, pointed out that between January 2018 and January 2019, 10 States will go to the polls — Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh, Meghalaya, Nagaland, Tripura, Karnataka, Mizoram, Rajasthan, Chattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh.

The Deputy Speaker recommended that if the simultaneous elections were to be held in 2019, then the terms of the Assemblies of these 10 States could be extended for a year or President’s rule imposed.

Elections are scheduled to five other states — Sikkim, Arunachal Pradesh, Telangana, Odisha and Andhra Pradesh in 2019, which he suggested could be timed with the Lok Sabha polls.

In 2020, four more state assemblies – Haryana, Maharashtra, Jharkhand and Delhi will come up for polls. Mr. Thambidurai suggested that the elections to these states should be preponed to synchronise them with Lok Sabha polls.

“So, if the Hon’ble Prime Minister’s pet idea is implemented, then elections could be simultaneously held in “end-February 2019”or “early-March 2019”, for almost 20 states of the country and for Lok Sabha too. This will, to say the least, save precious money of the government, which could otherwise be utilised for the people’s welfare programmes,” Mr. Thambidurai wrote.

By 2024, Mr. Thambidurai says that all other states can follow, by shortening their respective tenures.

He even has answers for political turmoil, like one playing out in his own home state of Tamil Nadu that could abruptly bring the government to close. “I would like to bring forward is that in the unfortunate event of some states getting dissolved in-between, then the elections to such states can be held only for the remaining period of the term and not for the five years from then on,” he said.

Mr. Thambidurai justified this suggestion by arguing that in case of by-elections due to death or resignation of a candidate too, the elections are held only for the remaining term.

“With this, by 2024, elections to all the State Assemblies and the Lok Sabha can be held together simultaneously in 2024 and every five years thereafter,” Mr. Thambidurai concluded.

The first general elections to the Lok Sabha was held simultaneously with all state assembiles in 1951-52. This practice continued in three subsequent general elections, 1957, 1962 and 1967. The cycle was disrupted with historic split of Congress in 1969 leading to premature dissolution of the Lok Sabha. The government since have also used Article 356 all too frequently prematurely disrupting the state assemblies.

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Printable version | Jan 26, 2020 12:13:31 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/thambidurai-backs-simultaneous-polls/article19694145.ece

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