Opposition flays idea of holding simultaneous polls, terms Law Commission proposal 'a complete misadventure'

Even as the Law Commission holds consultations on the feasibility of simultaneous elections to the Lok Sabha and the state legislatures, the Opposition slammed the proposal on Sunday.

This comes after the proposal came under attack from the Trinamool Congress (TMC) and the Communist Party of India (CPI), both of which attended the consultation on Saturday. The BJP and Congress stayed away from the process on the first day.

'Law Commission proposal complete misadventure'

The Opposition DMK in Tamil Nadu firmly opposed the idea of simultaneous polls, terming the Law Commission's proposal "a complete misadventure that will decimate the federal structure."

DMK working president MK Stalin said an earlier Law Commission during the tenure of AB Vajpayee as prime minister in 1999 reported on the issue exhaustively.

The DMK was of "the firm opinion that the proposed call for simultaneous elections to Lok Sabha and state legislatures goes against the basic tenets of our Constitution and established principles of democratic functioning," he said.

File image of DMK leader MK Stalin. PTI

File image of DMK leader MK Stalin. PTI

Referring to the Law Commission's Working Paper dated 17 April, 2018, on this subject, Stalin sought to point out various 'discrepancies.'

"State Legislatures have a distinct constitutional identity and derive their powers from Chapter III of the Constitution. Though Parliament is empowered to amend the Constitution — in accordance with Article 368 — there are basic features of the Constitution which cannot be abrogated," he said.

On countries with simultaneous polls being cited as examples in this case, such as Sweden, Belgium and South Africa, Stalin said the population of Tamil Nadu alone outnumbered the combined population of the three countries.

Any comparison of these countries with India in terms of population "is logically fallacious, completely misleading and unhelpful to the present discourse," he added.

JD(U), TRS support move

Speaking to mediapersons on Sunday, senior JD(U) leader KC Tyagi gave a guarded statement in support of simultaneous polls. He was quoted by ANI as saying, "We are in the favour of simultaneous elections, but we don't think it will be easy to conduct them. However, we cannot oppose it as it is a step towards less expensive elections, curbing black money and better governance."

The Telangana Rashtra Samiti too voiced its support for the idea, with K Chandrashekhar Rao stating in a letter to the Law Commission, "TRS is strongly in favour of holding simultaneous elections to the Lok Sabha and the state Legislative Assemblies."

CPM, TMC slam proposal

However, in the recent past, most Opposition parties flayed the concept of simultaneous elections, terming it as 'anti-democratic' and 'unconstitutional.'

The Trinamool Congress (TMC) on Saturday that holding polls at the Centre and states at the same time was against the basic provisions of the Constitution. TMC MP Kalyan Banerjee represented the party at the consultations by the Law Commission.

"The party strongly opposes the concept floated by the BJP government as it is highly impractical and against the provisions of the Constitution," he said.

The Lok Sabha member said those who framed the Constitution, including BR Ambedkar, never spoke or suggested anything about the "one nation, one election". "They gave us a federal structure. The central government is not superior compared to the states," he said.

Banerjee said it is not obligatory for the states to give in to whatever the prime minister demands. On 4 July, the CPM told the Law Commission that holding Lok Sabha and Assembly polls together is inherently "anti-democratic" and negates the principles of federalism which is a fundamental feature of Constitution.

In his letter to the commission, CPM general secretary Sitaram Yechury listed the party's objections to the proposal stating that it goes beyond the ambit of law reform entailing major amendments to Constitution, and would run against both the "letter and spirit of our Constitution".

With inputs from PTI

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Updated Date: Jul 08, 2018 17:28:38 IST

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