- Define simultaneous elections.
- Mention the view in favor of introducing SE.
- Give your arguments for its infeasibility.
The issue of holding simultaneous elections has dotted the public political discourse for a very long time. Put simply, Simultaneous elections mean conducting the Lok Sabha and State Assembly elections at the same time.
Argument given for SE: it is argued that state level elections distract the Central as well as other state governments from their developmental programs, since election requires mobilization of large scale resources. Due to frequent elections for different tenures of states, there is little time for sustained development works.
Arguments for infeasibility of SE:
- Given the complexity of Indian democracy, there will be situations necessitating mid-term elections, and these will desynchronize the election cycles.
- Any mechanism designed to ensure that there is no mid-term election, goes against the design of parliamentary democracy.
- If simultaneous elections take place some assemblies can be extended beyond the constitutionally mandated term of 5 years, while for others it can be curtailed. This will require a Constitutional Amendment, which can be done only by broad consensus across parties. Consensus across party lines is not in the offing as of now.
- The next problem is how to ensure that electoral cycles stay in sync ? For e.g., a state having 3 significant parties get 40%, 30% and 30% seats respectively in assembly elections. This this case, there is no way to break the stalemate except with another round of elections. This is not a remote possibility, as it occurred in 2013 Delhi elections.
- Also, if there is a no confidence motion which the government loses and there is no other party having the numbers to gain support of the majority members in the House, how can this be resolved without another election ? It will accentuate a Constitutional crisis India has witnessed such instances in 1979 (Janata government) and in 1997 (United Front government).
- It will relegate the local and state level issues, thus completely ignoring federalism.
Thus having and sustaining simultaneous elections is not a feasible option under the current system. To make it feasible, India needs to move to a system of constructive vote of no-confidence, as prevalent in Germany. Ambedkar had explained that Westminster system provides greater accountability enforced through various legislative mechanisms. Jettisoning this power of the legislature will go against the basic Constitutional design. But having such power will enable mid-term elections, making simultaneous elections impossible to sustain.
Therefore, regardless of desirability, simultaneous elections to Parliament & State assemblies are neither practically feasible nor constitutionally viable for our parliamentary democracy.