My press briefing at AICC Hdqrs. 10-July-2018

Proposal of ‘SimultaneousElections’ to Parliament and Assemblies across India’ being mooted by Modi Govt is a Constitutional perversity and hits at the very core of Democracy in India.

Any such proposal would be an anti-thesis to ‘Democracy’ and go against the grain of basic structure of Constitution of India , as also the letter and spirit of Democracy per say.

Simple outcome of ‘Compulsory Simultaneous Polls’ is to deny the people of India right of ‘Electing their Government and representative’. The Federal structure of our polity would stand decimated by such an authoritarian and autocratic step.

For example, if an Assembly was to be dissolved before the completion of its tenure of 5 years, it would be compulsorily kept in suspended animation and people would be governed by the Governor’s rule, for the balance tenure until the completion of 5 years. Naturally, there would be no elected Government or representative as elections would not be held until the completion of full 5 years.

This would be even more preposterous in case the Parliament was to be dissolved for some reason prior to the completion of its tenure. Won’t then the country be ruled by President’s rule?

This can only result in dictatorship of a few and tyranny of some unelected.

There are several important reasons for our stand:-

1.Holding of Simultaneous Elections would require the dissolution of several legislative assemblies which are still halfway (or less) through their terms. This would be a betrayal of the electorate in those states and would result in a significant expense to the exchequer.

2.Simultaneous elections were always held since Independence but due to vagaries of coalition politics, assemblies would have to be dissolved earlier. Even if simultaneous elections are announced there is no guarantee that all the State Governments so formed would serve their full five year terms. This would result in holding of elections again and defeat the purpose of the simultaneous elections.

3.Where does the Constitution authorise the Central Government to dissolve the assemblies or suspend the Governments, except under the emergency clauses? Is the debate purely academic or does the Government even have a road-map?

4.As usual, the BJP’s enthusiasm is based not so much on administrative reasons but instead on maximizing political gain and convenience. This is why, aside from vague reasons of administrative disruption; none of the BJP leaders are able to provide more cogent reasons for the same.

5.Besides, the Government would need 2/3rdmajority to pass such a Constitutional Amendment.  In the event of any consensus, many political parties have opposed this proposal; it looks very difficult for such a Constitutional Amendment to go through.

6.PM Shri Narendra Modi gives us this argument that hundreds of crores would be saved if elections are held together. A Parliament Standing Committee estimates the entire cost of Lok Sabha and all Assemblies as Rs 4500 Cr. We would like advise him  to first stop spending Rs 4600 Cr of public money on self-promotion and propaganda.

7.The concept of Federalism engrained into our Constitution and multi-party Parliamentary System, would also be endangered, if simultaneous elections take place.  Large parties with a larger footprint will have more advantages in campaign, spending and publicity and the voices of regional parties would be submerged in the din.

There are several other reasons that we would also highlight from time to time.

The bottom line is that, this is another preposterous suggestion by a self-absorbed, narcissist and self-centered Modi Government and the BJP that disregards any Constitutional norms and established conventions.

Or is it yet another ‘shagufa’ which you have thrown which sounds nice, which is a great ‘jumla’ ‘one nation one election’ but at the core is it a hollow concept without meaning. Are you having 2/3rd majority present in the voting for not but at least I can count ten constitutional amendments are required.

Do you know that RTI and Parliamentary Committees has said that the maximum expenditure for central and all assemblies put together is Rs. 4,500 crore a onetime which we are assuming you have all elections Rs. 4500 crore for central and state Governments. A separate RTI disclosed that only from 2014 to 2018 Mr. Modi has still one year to go. His Government has spent Rs. 4,600 crores i.e. Rs. 100 crore more than the cost of our elections. This is only one Government in one four year term.

On the question of ‘One Nation – One election’ like in Belgium and Sweden, Dr. Singhvi said you think that a better Belgium election is comparable to Indian federalism.  I am very grateful for giving the examples which are the reason precisely why we should not apply it here. Belgium has 23 states, having 28 states with different elections, different tenure, different followings, different Loktantra, different parties, different coalitions, and to do they have at last the election commission put the units of parties this country at over 150. I think you have answered your own question.

To a related question that is it possible for the Election Commission in terms of Assembly elections in five States this year; Dr. Singhvi said everything is possible within the confines of the existing constitution. The existing constitution and its three years founding fathers never envisaged the very concept of one nation one election. You can always tweak the result two months later, two months earlier. We can always tweak the elections because the last date for the new assembly to meet can be ‘x’ or ‘y’. Those are permissible limits. That is very different from saying that you start trying to make the whole country into a sink. So you are now talking of square pegs in round holes and round pegs in square holes.

Dr. Singhvi said this is condemnable. We have said so earlier many times and you are seeing proof of what we have said. It is not merely indirect support, not a wink and a nod;  it has direct support by none less than high level central Ministers and perhaps the third or the fourth senior most man in the Cabinet supporting that Minister. These are people accused of the most horrendous reprehensible crime, how do you expect an independent balanced objective investigation by the criminal authorities when Ministers of this level openly, shamelessly and with impunity lend support this kind of conduct.

On a case going on in the Hon’ble Supreme Court on Article 377 and Congress’ stand on it, Dr. Singhvi said I do totally disagree with such comments, I condemn them but      I do not believe that I would object to the right of people to speak such things. Even though these may be foolish things. I do not think I have been given the same licence by them. Secondly, I think none of these comments matter. The Hon’ble Supreme Court will go in to it by law, there are judgments of the Hon’ble High Court and judgment of Supreme Court and a large Bench will consider minutely. So I think we shall all refrain from making such comments and I am sure such mortar mouth will not refrain. So let them do it.

On the Jio University that is coming up, Dr. Singhvi said I do not intend to refer at all to any Institution, individual company, entity etc. But you have raised an important question; let me tell you the stand of the Congress Party. Any Institution and this is not person specific, it is not company specific, it is not in any way, we are not bothered about individuals. I am going to give you in writing also. In fact, I wanted to make sure that we put it down in writing so that you have no confusion.

Any institution which is seeking such status, this applies to you, to him, to this and that must establish its credentials by various acknowledged established tests. What are those tests? Adequate infrastructure, outstanding faculty, credible research output, a place of prestige in the academia. This is the obligation of the Government and the HRD Ministry and till now apart from a lot of talk, we have not seen great achievements in this regard by the HRD or the Government. I think it is counterproductive and wrong to focus on an individual or institution X or Y by taking names or otherwise. The need of the hour is for the HRD Ministry and we are trying to be as constructive as possible. The need of the hour is for the HRD Ministry to look into these four or five established criteria and certainly if you satisfy them in a very objective proper way, then to grant you the status. But equally to be extremely strong and harsh if you do not satisfy this criterion and at the moment I think we need a proper transparent system where you will share with the nation, how you apply the criteria and how you have done it.


                                                                                                          (Vineet Punia)


                                                                                         Communication Deptt.



Related Posts

Leave a reply