Once, in 2016, Arun Jaitley warned of pitfalls in holding simultaneous polls


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Prime Minister Narendra Modi with late BJP chief Arun Jaitley (Express photograph by Renuka Puri)

Just weeks after Prime Minister Narendra Modi first pushed for simultaneous elections at a celebration discussion board on March 19, 2016, then Finance Minister Arun Jaitley had mentioned the thought “is fraught with many pit-falls”, in accordance with the minutes of a gathering of a Committee of Ministers (CoM) obtained by The Indian Express underneath the Right to Information Act.

Simultaneous polls to the Lok Sabha and State Legislative Assemblies has been a relentless chorus in Modi’s political discourse. Last month, he talked about it in his Independence Day speech too. He has justified the proposal on a number of grounds, together with a substantive reduce in expenditure incurred for conducting separate elections yearly.

In early 2016, a Committee of Ministers (CoM), set as much as look at the Election Commission’s proposal to buy new EVMs and VVPAT items for Rs 5,200 crore forward of the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, was requested by the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) to additionally look at the feasibility of holding simultaneous elections.

At a gathering of the CoM held on April 11, 2016, Jaitley voiced his reservations. “Regarding holding of simultaneous election to the Lok Sabha and State Legislative Assemblies, Hon’ble FM (Jaitley) averred that this is a sphere which is fraught with many pit-falls and we should tread with abundant caution in the matter,” state the minutes of the assembly.

“Hon’ble EAM (Sushma Swaraj) was of the view that we must always not summarily dismiss the thought and there’s a want to provide a severe thought to it. She additional added that the Hon’ble PM is eager to look at this challenge and that in an all celebration assembly held lately, political events had been favourably inclined to the thought,” state the minutes.

Once, in 2016, Arun Jaitley warned of pitfalls in holding simultaneous polls
From the minutes of the assembly on April 11, 2016

The assembly, chaired by then Home Minister Rajnath Singh, concluded with the members agreeing that the CoM will not be the discussion board to debate the difficulty and an knowledgeable committee needs to be assigned “to examine the entire gamut of the nuances involved in the issue”.

The assembly was additionally attended by then Law Minister D V Sadananda Gowda, MoS PMO Jitendra Singh, Legislative Department Secretary G Narayana Raju, Bhaskar Khulbe, who was then further secretary in the PMO, and Deputy Election Commissioners Umesh Sinha and Sudeep Jain.

Jaitley’s remarks at an inside assembly assume significance since not many inside the celebration seem to have questioned the proposal of simultaneous elections. So far, solely Opposition events just like the Congress, Trinamool Congress, CPI, AIMIM and NCP have expressed reservations and questioned the feasibility, given the present constitutional provisions on the fastened tenure of State Assemblies and Parliament.

Opinion | While One Nation One Poll is doable with difficulty, is it worth it?

However, talking at a public occasion in March 2017, Jaitley had echoed Modi’s views on simultaneous polls. “It (simultaneous elections) will hugely reduce the quantum of expenditure, because if Lok Sabha and State Assembly elections are held together, the campaigns will be common, and, in a common campaign, the money spent will be much less. It won’t be duplicated,” PTI quoted him as saying at a dialogue on ‘Campaign Finance Reform in India’ in New Delhi.

Simultaneous elections is a BJP pet undertaking which was flagged by its veteran chief L Ok Advani in 2011. The EC, as first reported by The Indian Express, expressed its help for simultaneous elections in 2016, supplied the authorized and monetary challenges are overcome.

The first elections to the Lok Sabha and all State Assemblies had been held simultaneuosly in 1951-52. This observe continued in the three subsequent basic elections held in 1957, 1962 and 1967. But, with the untimely dissolution of some State Assemblies in 1968 and 1969, this cycle was disrupted.

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