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Simultaneous Polls Can Save Costs, Help In Smooth Governance: Election Commissioner OP Rawat

Election Commissioner OP Rawat said, "Unless lawmakers amend the Constitution and carry out other legal changes, it can’t happen".

Zeba Warsi | CNN-News18

Updated:October 5, 2017, 7:31 PM IST
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New Delhi: Election Commissioner OP Rawat took everyone by surprise when he said that the Election Commission of India is ready to hold simultaneous polls — Lok Sabha and Assemblies — from 2018. In an exclusive interview with CNN News18, he explains the idea of ‘one nation, one poll’.

Edited excerpts:

Would you say that ‘one nation, one poll’ is in conformity to our federal polity?
That is not our domain. As Election Commission our job is to conduct free and fair polls. The lawmakers and other stakeholders must brainstorm and come on a consensus. They must all be on board. Unless lawmakers amend the Constitution and carry out other legal changes, it can’t happen.

Political consensus is the key. But what kind of legislative and Constitutional amendments will it require?
It will require comprehensive amendments. There hasn’t been a study on what provisions need to be amended. All aspects need to be looked at for making ‘one nation, one poll’ to become a reality.

The Constitution needs to be amended. The new conditions need to be accommodated and provided for. What happens if one or two states fall out of cycle? All such circumstances need to be provided for.

There was one instance, in 1951, when simultaneous polls were conducted. But it ended as zero sum game in the long run as the tenure for Assemblies and Lok Sabha doesn’t match.
Exactly. In a democratic set up, anytime a No Confidence motion can be passed. This is the key problem that needs to be dealt with. A framework needs to be built around it.

What are the advantages of holding simultaneous elections?
Holding simultaneous elections would help us save costs, especially for the political parties which will have to spend on campaign only once. More importantly, for every election, model code of conduct poses several constraints for smooth governance. With ‘one nation, one poll’, there won’t be need for multiple rounds of model code of conduct. Governments feel constrained in policy formation once MCC is imposed. All that will be avoided.

Where does the onus lie?
The lawmakers have to come together and decide whether the amendments can be put in place. That’s how it will work.

If that happens, we are prepared.


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