The Niti Aayog recommendation for synchronised two-phase Lok Sabha and Assembly elections from 2024 to ensure “minimum campaign mode disruption” in governance comes after Prime Minister Narendra Modi and former president Pranab Mukherjee made a strong pitch for simultaneous elections to the Lok Sabha and state Assemblies.
Narendra Modi has repeatedly spoken in its favour, saying if the proposal was not suitable, it could be rejected, but there should be a debate on it.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, had in February, made a strong pitch for simultaneous elections.
‘The simultaneous polls will cause some loss to all, including us,’ Modi had said, and asked political parties to not look at the idea through the narrow prism of politics. ‘One party or a government cannot do it. We will have to find a way together, Narendra Modi added.
According to sources, Prime Minister Narendra Modi during the Niti Aayog 3rd governing council meeting, said that for long India has been suffering for economic and political mismanagement. ‘Because of poor time management, many good initiatives and schemes have failed to deliver the anticipated results,’ Modi added.
The policy think-tank has said implementing the proposal may necessitate “a maximum one-time curtailment or extension of some state assemblies”.
Noting that it is in the national interest to hold simultaneous polls, the Niti Aayog said a focused group of stakeholders comprising constitutional and subject matter experts, think tanks, government officials and representatives of various political parties should be formed to work out appropriate implementation related details.
It has made the Election Commission the nodal agency to look into the suggestion and recommended setting up of a working group of stakeholders for deciding a road-map for synchronised elections.
To implement this in the national interest, a focused group of stakeholders comprising constitutional and subject matter experts, think tanks, government officials and representatives of various political parties should be formed to work out appropriate implementation related details, the sources said.
This may include drafting appropriate Constitution and statutory amendments, agreeing on a workable framework to facilitate transition to simultaneous elections, developing a stakeholder communication plan and various operational details, it said in its ‘Three Year Action Agenda, 2017-18 to 2019-20’.
NITI Aayog, also known by the acronym the National Institution for Transforming India, is a Government of India policy think-tank established by the BJP government to replace the Planning Commission which followed the top down model. The stated aim for NITI Aayog’s creation is to foster involvement and participation in the economic policy-making process by the State Governments of India.
The emphasis is on bottom up approach and make the country to move towards cooperative federalism. The Union Government of India announced the formation of NITI Aayog on 1 January 2015, and the first meeting was held on 8 February 2015. The Prime Minister serves as the Ex-officio chairman.
The governing council consists of all state Chief Ministers, chief ministers of Delhi and Puducherry, Lieutenant Governor of Andaman and Nicobar, and vice chairman nominated by the Prime Minister. In addition to full members, there are two part-time members and four ex-officio members and a chief executive officer. The temporary members are selected from the leading universities and research institutions.
Elections are being held all the time somewhere or else in the country and continuous elections lead to lot of expenditure. Modi had said that more than Rs 1,100 crore was spent on the 2009 Lok Sabha polls and the expenditure had shot up to Rs 4,000 crore in 2014. Over one crore government employees, including a large number of teachers, are involved in the electoral process causing maximum harm to the education sector.
Security forces also have to be diverted for the electoral work even as the country’s enemy keeps plotting against the nation and terrorism remains a strong threat, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had said.