Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s idea of holding simultaneous elections in the country may be desirable but it may not work in a country as vast and diverse as India, according to experts. Recently in an interview to a news channel, PM Modi had said too many elections in the country were coming in the way of the development of the country. Noting that the country is trapped in the cycle of elections, “It is time to take it out of this cycle. It is time to stop connecting everything with politics.”
PM Modi’s proposal received a shot in the arm when President Pranab Mukherjee too supported it yesterday. However, experts believe it may not be feasible. The biggest challenge is achieving political consensus, which seems to be “chimerical”, according to Sanjay Kumar, director, Centre for Study of Developing Societies (CSDS).
“I suspect the regional parties will be more opposed to the idea than national parties because there is always a tendency for voters to vote the same party in power in the state and at the Centre in case the Lok Sabha polls and the state elections are held together,” Kumar told The Indian Express.
Research also backs up Kumar’s claim. In a blog post on IDFC website, Praveen Chakravarty writes: “there is a 77% chance that the Indian voter will vote for the same party for both the state and Centre when elections are held simultaneously.” According to a report of the Parliamentary Standing Committee, headed by Congress’ E.M. Sudarsana Natchiappan, the Congress, NCP, CPI, Trinamool Congress and AIMIM have rejected the proposal saying it isn’t feasible, IE reports.
Jagdeep Chhokar, founder, Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR), says the idea of simultaneous polls would amount to “negation of democracy”.
However, there won’t be any logistical problem if all parties agree for simultaneous elections at the Centre and in states. IE quotes former Chief Election Commissioner N Gopalswami as saying that the extra money (about Rs 10,000 crore) for the polls would not be a big problem for the government. “That isn’t the problem. The problem is that in our country we agree in principle and not in practice. We need to wait and watch for the political parties’ greenlight to the project.”