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Simultaneous polls will require at least 5 amendments to Constitution

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NEW DELHI, Sep 1: Holding simultaneous elections to Lok Sabha and state assemblies would need at
least five constitutional amendments and a large number of additional EVMs and paper-trail
machines costing “thousands of crores of rupees”, but will yield a huge long-term saving to the
public exchequer, officials said on Friday.
A parliamentary panel had examined the issue of simultaneous elections in consultation with various
stakeholders, including the Election Commission.
The committee made certain recommendations in this regard, the officials said.
The matter now stands referred to the Law Commission for further examination to work out a
“practicable road map and framework” for simultaneous elections, they said.
Simultaneous elections, the officials noted, would result in huge savings for the public exchequer
and avoid replication of effort on the part of administrative, and law and order machinery in holding
repeated elections. It would bring considerable savings to political parties and candidates in their
election campaigns.
Asynchronous Lok Sabha and Legislative Assembly elections (including by-elections) result in
prolonged enforcement of the Model Code of Conduct with its concomitant adverse impact on
developmental and welfare programmes, the officials noted.
They also said simultaneous polls would require amendments in at least five articles of the
Constitution — Article 83 relating to the duration of Houses of Parliament, Article 85 relating to
dissolution of Lok Sabha by the President, Article 172 relating to the duration of the state
legislatures, Article 174 relating to dissolution of the state legislatures, and Article 356 relating to the
imposition of President’s Rule in states.
A consensus of all political parties is also required keeping in mind the federal structure of India’s
system of governance.
Besides, it is imperative that consensus of all state governments is obtained.
It would also require an additional number of electronic voting machines (EVMs) and VVPATs (paper
trail machines), which would cost “thousands of crores of rupees”.
With the life of a machine only 15 years, this would imply that a machine would be used for about
three or four times in its life span. They need to be replaced every 15 years.
Additional polling personnel and security forces would also be needed to hold the massive
democratic exercise.
The department-related Parliamentary Standing Committee on Personnel, Public Grievances, Law
and Justice in its 79th report had highlighted that in South Africa, elections to national as well as
provincial legislatures are held simultaneously for five years and municipal elections are held two
years later.
In Sweden, elections to national legislature (Riksdag) and provincial legislature/county council
(landsting) and local bodies/municipal assemblies (Kommunfullmaktige) are held on a fixed date —
second Sunday in September for four years.
In the UK, the term of Parliament is governed by the Fixed-term Parliament Act, 2011. (PTI)

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