Hopeful on simultaneous general, assembly elections: Parliament panel

Kolkata, June 16 (IANS) The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Law and Justice, which is exploring the possibility of aligning the Lok Sabha and assembly polls across India, on Tuesday expressed hope of a consensus, and support from all stakeholders.

Interacting with media persons here, committee chairman E.M.S. Natchiappan said the frequent elections across the country results in a government losing time to undertake developmental work.

“Almost every year, we have assembly elections in some state or the other. This means for at least three months, no development work can be done due to the enforcement of the model code of conduct.

“If the polls are held simultaneously, then the party in power – be it a regional or a national party – will have to implement its election manifesto and it cannot hide behind the alibi that a government is not cooperating or there is lack of clarity in policies and other excuses,” said Natchiappan.

On a two-day visit to the state, the committee held talks with the Trinamool Congress, Forward Bloc and the Revolutionary Socialist Party on Monday. It will head to Maharashtra on Wednesday and then to the southern states to hold talks with various regional parties.

“Anything can be solved by discussions and we got the confidence that some kind of formula, to conduct both the Lok Sabha and assembly polls simultaneously, would be available soon,” said Natchiappan, who is a Rajya Sabha member from the Congress.

The committee said polls were held simultaneously until 1967.

“Till 1967, there was simultaneous conduct of Lok Sabha and Vidhan Sabha polls. But due to instability in several states due to various issues, rescheduling of polls, coalition politics, imposition of president’s rule etc disturbed that harmonious arrangement.

“So, this is an effort to try and get back that harmony,” he said.

Natchiappan also asserted the arrangement, if implemented, will not be adversely affected by coalition politics.

“Since 1999, we have coalition governments completing their stipulated terms. This indicates that we have mastered the art of coalition arrangement. We are deliberating on all the aspects involved and confident that a workable formula will be arrived,” he said.

The committee will also hold discussions with NGOs and rights organisations over the issue and is likely to submit a report by August-September.

“It may or may not happen soon but we have initiated discussions with regional and national political parties and other stakeholders and we are hopeful of a consensus,” added Natchiappan.

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