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L K Advani, Pranab Mukherjee moot simultaneous Lok Sabha, assembly polls
August 02, 2003 11:33 IST
Last Updated: August 03, 2003 02:17 IST
Deputy Prime Minister Lal Kishenchand Advani on Saturday said the government is holding informal consultations with the Election Commission and its allies in the National Democratic Alliance on synchronising Lok Sabha and state assembly elections.
Advani said five years in the government 'have made us intensely conscious' of the fact that the ruling party remaining in a continuous election mode was a 'serious handicap' for good governance.
"Every important decision, including the budget, is influenced by one point: how will the voter react?" he pointed out.
"We have informally been sounding members of the Election Commission and at least with one major (NDA) ally on the issue," he told reporters on board a special IAF aircraft while on his way to Pune for attending some functions.
Advani revealed that a former member of the Election Commission has supported the proposal on the ground that it will save on elections expenses, but the Constitution Review Commission did not discuss the issue.
About their reaction, he said, "There is lot of appreciation. People agree."
In Kolkata, senior Congress leader Pranab Mukherjee also said a discussion is on at political and apolitical levels whether a mechanism could be evolved to hold simultaneous Lok Sabha and assembly elections to allow the government to take hard
decisions and to save huge expenditure on elections.
"Every year there is one election or the other, which prevents the government from taking hard decisions," Mukherjee told reporters.
He conceded the Central government was within its constitutional rights to hold early elections to the Lok Sabha, but said it could not compel state governments to call for assembly polls where the five-year tenure of existing assemblies had not expired.
Despite multiplicity of parties, Advani said, "If the Bharatiya Janata Party and Congress agree, it will be easy to implement."
The issue, he said, would be taken up formally once there is an agreement within the government.
In the first two decades after Independence, four (Lok Sabha and assembly) polls were held simultaneously. The two were delinked in 1971.
"We have been seriously thinking if, either by rescheduling the poll time table or by amending the Constitution, can we synchronise Lok Sabha and assembly polls?" Advani said.
He suggested 'the first quarter' of the year as the best time for holding elections.