Countering the Centre’s push to hold simultaneous election, Chief Election Commissioner Om Prakash Rawat proposed holding one election a year as an alternative. He also said that the move would also prevent violations of Model Code of Conduct on social media, as the social media platforms can be ordered to not run any poll-related news 48 hours before the elections.
Rawat also highlighted that conducting simultaneous elections will require a huge manpower, especially security forces.
For some months, the issue of holding simultaneous elections across the country has been a raging debate with a stakeholder discussion called for the One Nation, One Poll proposal by the Law Commission of India. The Law Commission and NITI Aayog have often repeated that simultaneous elections are somehow acceptable because “elections to Lok Sabha and all state Legislative Assemblies were held simultaneously between 1951 and 1967”.
While the BJP mooted the simultaneous elections proposal, Opposition has repeatedly denounced the Law Commission’s agenda. Most Opposition parties flayed the concept of simultaneous elections, terming it as “anti-democratic” and “unconstitutional”.
Rawat had earlier said that it would take a long time to get the legal framework for holding Lok Sabha and Assembly elections together 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 remarked.
If simultaneous elections to the Lok Sabha and state Assemblies are held in 2019, the Election Commission will require nearly 24 lakh EVMs, double the number required to hold only the Parliamentary polls. During their discussion with the Law Commission on 16 May on the issue of holding simultaneous polls, the Election Commission officials had said they would need around Rs 4,500 crore to buy nearly 12 lakh additional electronic voting machines (EVMs) and an equal number voter-verifiable paper audit trail (VVPAT) machines.
“There are nearly 10 lakh polling stations across the country. Since EVMs and paper-trail machines are deployed in every polling station, the requirement is for 10 lakh EVMs and an equal number of paper-trail machines. In addition, 20 percent of the machines are kept in the reserve. That comes to two lakh. Therefore, to hold the Lok Sabha polls in 2019, the EC needs 12 lakh EVMs and an equal number of VVPAT machines,” explained an Election Commission functionary.