New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi's pitch for simultaneous Lok Sabha and Assembly elections has been strongly backed by the Biju Janata Dal (BJD), while some other opposition parties termed the suggestion as "impractical".
Modi has called a meeting of Presidents of all political parties represented in the Parliament on June 19 to discuss "one nation, one election", besides other issues. BJD leader Pinaki Misra said his party was for simultaneous elections. "We are all for simultaneous elections. We have walked the talk on this matter. We have not only preached, but also acted. In 2004, when there was a year to go before the Assembly polls, we held early state elections along with the Lok Sabha polls. The trend has been continued in 2009, 2014 and 2019.
"Holding elections simultaneously has helped the state enormously because there has been shorter model code of conduct. There has also been massive cost cutting. Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik is all for simultaneous elections," Misra told IANS. Misra said it was entirely possible to implement simultaneous polls at the national level. "What is needed is an amendment to the Constitution that there can be no vote of no confidence without a simultaneous vote of confidence. This is there in the German Constitution. It is practically feasible that you can't bring down a government unless you are able to simultaneously swear in a new one. So whoever brings a no-confidence motion must simultaneously bring vote of confidence. It can be simply done," he said.
Misra said the Lok Sabha elections have just concluded and that Assembly polls were due in three states. "There will be elections every year till 2024. You are in a perpetual election cycle where governance takes a very serious beating. So it is a very good idea," he said. Asked about the reservation of the opposition parties to the suggestion, he said, "Honestly, I sometimes get the feeling that the opposition opposes for the sake of opposition.
"If they search within their hearts, the opposition parties will themselves recognise the fact that this is a salutary thing. Speaking of Odisha, we have certainly benefited from it. It has been a successful experiment in Odisha and should be successful in other states as well," Misra said. Trinamool Congress leader Saugata Roy said that simultaneous election was an "altruistic concept but not implementable". He said that Assembly elections were due almost every year in some part of the country, making it difficult to implement the idea of simultaneous polls.
"I don't know how it can be implemented. It is impractical," Roy said. Congress leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury said the suggestion looked fine but difficult to implement on the ground because India was a federal structure, and not an unitary. "The idea has advantages as election expenditure will be saved and there will be more time to carry out development work, but we have to think of our structure. If a state government is unpopular, we will not be able to do anything because election cannot be held," Chowdhury told IANS.
However, Union Minister Narendra Singh Tomar said "one nation, one election" is an ideal situation. "It has a lot of benefits for the country. At present, Assemblies have staggered elections and this keeps the politicians busy. If Lok Sabha and Assembly polls are held simultaneously, they will conclude in two months and a long period will be available to the government which will speed up economic progress," Tomar told IANS. He said all parties have to reach an understanding to implement the idea. The Prime Minister had made a pitch for simultaneous elections in his first term also.