The government circles are looking into the possibility of aligning a significant number of state polls in sync with the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, by advancing the national polls, along with a few state elections, in sync with assembly polls due in November-December 2018, according to a Times of India report.
The government officials are discussing ways to align Lok Sabha elections and state polls, keeping in mind Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s view of conducting simultaneous elections to the Lok Sabha and the state assemblies and shifting to a January-December fiscal year.
In April this year, PM Modi had called for carrying forward the debate and discussions on holding simultaneous elections to Parliament and state legislatures, asserting that staggered assembly elections disrupt governance and are a financial burden.
The report cited sources saying that the political permutations take into account views of former Lok Sabha secretary general Subhash C Kashyap and a group of secretaries.
The government circles are examining the constitutional provision that polls can be held within six months of being due, and the process doesn’t require an amendment to the Constitution.
“In the coming parliamentary polls, the elections to states due within six months or so can be held together as there is a provision that polls can be held within six months if elections are due. This can be done by the Election Commission. It does not require any amendment to Constitution,” Subhash Kashyap was quoted by Times of India as saying.
However, the big move is not an easy task as generating a wider political consensus will be a challenge. Advancing Lok Sabha election, due in April 2019, can be aligned with polls in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh and Mizoram, due in November-December next year. Barring Mizoram, BJP is in office in rest of the states.
To increase the number of states that could go to polls in sync with the Lok Sabha elections, it has been suggested that Telangana, Andhra Pradesh and Odisha assemblies could be curtailed by a few months if the incumbent parties agreed to such a proposal.
Simultaneous elections have worked for Biju Janata Dal (BJD) in Odisha. For different reasons, co-terminus polls helped Telugu Desam Party (TDP) ride a Modi wave in Andhra Pradesh in 2014. An alliance may convince TRS to consider a joint campaign with BJP in Telangana.
Calling for the need for simultaneous elections, Pm Modi had pointed out that such an exercise could cost some sacrifice from both the BJP and the Opposition, and it required more than one party or government to make it happen.
Meanwhile, Kashyap said that the process could be gradual as it would not be feasible to convince all state due for polls just after 2019 Lok Sabha elections to give up a part of their tenure.