The U.P.A. Government’s term ends in May 2014. The Sixteenth Lok Sabha elections must take place before that.
I remember the First General Elections held in India in 1952. I was in Rajasthan at the time. Those of us who were party campaigners there were more concerned about the Assembly Polls than the Lok Sabha polls. That was an election where the Jana Sangh won three seats in the Lok Sabha, two from West Bengal and one from Rajasthan. But what is pertinent in the context I am wishing to emphasise today is the fact that the Lok Sabha and Assembly elections were held together – all in 1952.
This process was repeated in the next three elections – of 1957, 1962 and 1967. The Fifth General Elections were due in 1972. But in early 1971 Smt. Indira Gandhi dissolved the Lok Sabha, and held the Fifth Lok Sabha elections in March 1971. The Assembly elections took place as scheduled in 1972. This is how the initial delinking of Lok Sabha and Assembly elections took place.
Meanwhile, the presence of Art. 356 in our constitution which empowers the Union Government to dissolve a State Assembly and take over the governance of the State, if at any point of time it comes to the conclusion that the Government in the State was not being carried on in accordance with the Constitution has resulted in the delinking of the election programme of different states from one another also.
The situation today, thus, is that in the years 2010, 2011, 2012 (that is, since the formation of U.P.A.-2) as many as twelve different states have gone to the polls – Jharkhand and Bihar (2010), Kerala, Puducherry, Tamilnadu, West Bengal and Assam (2011), Goa, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Manipur (2012). The terms of the Assemblies of Gujarat and Himachal are due to end in January 2013. So in all probability fresh elections of these two Assemblies also are likely before the current year ends. In a way, for those running the Union Government this vast country of ours with its huge population is in a perpetual election mode. When for six years we were in the NDA Government we actually experienced how impending elections even in a remote corner of the country used to influence decision making in New Delhi. I feel this is not good either for governance or for the polity.
Some time back I had occasion to discuss this matter with Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh and then Leader of the House in the Lok Sabha, and now the Rashtrapati, Shri Pranab Mukherji. I found both of them receptive to the suggestion I offered that there should be no midway dissolution of either the Lok Sabha or the State Assemblies. Both these institutions must have a fixed tenure.
As in the U.S., the exact date of elections should not be arbitrarily decided by the executive. In U.S., Presidential elections take place every four years, and always in November. The law lays down that the election shall be held ‘on the Tuesday after the first Monday of November’.
Barack Obama was elected President of the United States in November, 2008. This year a fresh election is due. The first Monday of November, 2012, falls on the 5th. So the election date this year would be 6th November.
These days a lot is being said and written about the need for election reforms to curb the role of money power in elections which is at the root of corruption in public life.
Let the new Rashtrapati take an initiative with regard to poll reforms in their totality, but more specifically in respect of this particular matter which we had once discussed. Let the present Government in which he himself has been a principal player accomplish this one thing at least: a fixed tenure for Lok Sabha and State Assemblies, and simultaneous elections at the Centre and States every five years.
For the non-partisan responsibility, Pranab Da has just assumed, taking an initiative regarding electoral reform would be very appropriate.
When in 2010 I had discussed the above issue with the Prime Minister and our then Leader of the Lok Sabha I had indicated that U.K. Government also was thinking in the same direction.
I would like to mention today that in 2011, British Parliament has enacted a law called “Fixed – term Parliaments Act, 2011.” This Act mandates that the next election will be held on 7th May, 2015 (except in the event of a collapse of government or a two – thirds majority of MPs voting for an early election).
Source of above
12 August, 2012