Concerned over parties and workers spending too much time and money in electioneering, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has floated the idea of holding simultaneous elections to panchayats, urban local bodies, states and Parliament. This, he feels, will also give political and social workers more time to take people-oriented programmes to the grassroots.
Sources said the Prime Minister, while addressing office-bearers of the BJP at the party national executive meeting recently, told them he had mooted this idea at an all-party meeting ahead of the Budget session.
“The Prime Minister was talking about political workers spending a lot of time electioneering. As a result, they get less time for social work. The Prime Minister wanted party workers to devote more time to taking people-friendly programmes of the governments to the grassroots,” a BJP leader, who was present at the meeting, said.
“Modi said when he suggested it at the all-party meeting, almost all political leaders agreed with him. The BJP is in favour of this idea,” the leader said.
BJP leaders say that frequent elections, which see the model code of conduct being imposed in poll-bound areas, put on hold all development programmes and activities of governments in states and at the Centre. This affects governance.
“The system is on hold every now and then. The bureaucracy’s functioning also gets affected, often leading to policy paralysis and governance deficit,” another BJP leader said.
According to this leader, the Prime Minister pointed out that conducting elections to panchayats, urban bodies, states and Parliament together will reduce the huge expenditure incurred on different elections every year. The Election Commission estimates that holding elections to Lok Sabha and assemblies cost around Rs 4,500 crore.
Incidentally, the BJP manifesto released ahead of the 2014 Lok Sabha polls had underlined: “Evolve method of holding Assembly and Lok Sabha elections simultaneously.”
In its report on ‘Feasibility of Holding Simultaneous Elections to the House of People (Lok Sabha) and State Legislative Assemblies’, tabled in Parliament last December, the Standing Committee on Personnel, Public Grievances, Law and Justice said “a solution will be found to reduce the frequency of elections which relieve people and government machinery, tired of frequent electoral processes.” The report said this is “important for India if it is to compete with other nations in developmental agenda on real time basis as a robust, democratic country.”
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