Can one nation, one poll be held: Centre to ask Election Commission
The Union Government is set to ask the Election Commission of India if simultaneous Lok Sabha and state assemblies be held in multiple phases beginning next year, official sources have said.
The views would be sought from the EC after the submission of a report by the Law Commission, which is likely to recommend simultaneous election in two phases in 2019 and 2024.
The Law Commission is likely to submit its report on the matter to the Law Ministry later this month.
A similar report of the government think tank NITI Aayog recommending simultaneous polls in two phases had been referred to the poll panel for its views.
The government, the sources said, wanted the EC to send its views in coming months so that a view can be firmed up on the issue.
Seeking to give shape to the government's concept of 'one nation, one election', a Law Commission internal working paper has recommended holding simultaneous election to the Lok Sabha and state assemblies in two phases beginning 2019.
The second phase of simultaneous polls can take place in 2024, the document states.
The document has proposed amending the Constitution and the Representation of the People Act to shorten or extend the terms of state legislative assemblies to effect the move.
The amendments are in line with the ones recommended by a parliamentary panel and the NITI Aayog.
The states which are recommended to be covered under phase I are where assembly polls are due in 2021. These include Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra.
States which will come under phase II are Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat, Karnataka, Delhi and Punjab. To hold elections in these states along with Lok Sabha polls, the terms of the assemblies have to be extended.
Based on a suggestion made by the Election Commission, the working paper also says that a no-confidence motion against the government should be followed by a confidence motion. This would ensure that if the opposition does not have numbers to form an alternative government, the regime in office cannot be removed.
Chief Election Commissioner Om Prakash Rawat had a word of caution on simultaneous polls when he recently said that the legal framework required for holding of the two elections together will take a 'lot of time' to get ready.
"We cannot put the cart before the horse. Logistical issues are subservient to legal framework. Unless legal framework is in place, we don't have to talk about anything else because legal framework will take a lot of time, making constitutional amendment to (changing) the law, all the process will take time," he said.
He had said once the legal framework was ready, the EC will deliver.
"...EC is a creation of the Constitution. We have to perform willy-nilly, deliver the election, whatever way prescribed in the law," he had said.