Simultaneous elections desirable but difficult to enforce: former CEC Quraishi

New Delhi, Oct 26 (IANS) A system for simultaneous elections to parliament and state legislatures was desirable but difficult to enforce, former Chief Election Commissioner S.Y. Quraishi said on Wednesday.

Participating in a debate on ‘Simultaneous Election- Possibilities and Challenges’, organised by NGO Association of Democratic Reforms, Quraishi appeared critical of the plan, which has resufaced again for debate in public domain over its feasibility.

“Prior to every election, there is rise in divisive politics. Issues related to casteism, communalism assumes significance. Elections have become root cause of corruption due money involved in it. All these can be reduced or checked and focus on good governance can be brought back if simultaneous system is implemented,” he said.

He however, noted that this system has “harmful effects” too.

“Every election like Lok Sabha, assembly, municipalty has its own mandate and specific issues. So they will be mixed. In addition, it can have negative impact on regional parties and diversity,” Quraishi said.

The other participents in the debate were Rajya Sabha MP Bhupinder Yadav, Centre for Studies of Developing Studies’ Lokniti director Sanjay Kumar, and PRS Legislative Research president M.R. Madhavan.

Yadav called the simultaneous election system was necessary to bring certainity in election schedule. He asked for two phase elections for Loksabha and all state assemblies in order to get enough time to rulers for smooth governance and to political parties for implentation of political ideologies at grassroot level.

“Once we had code of conduct for about one and half year in Rajasthan due to susequent assembly, Loksabha and municipalty, and zilla parishad elections. It had negative effect on the governance. We want uniformity in the election system for effectiveness,” he said.

Sanjay Kumar meanwhile said that the research has showed that regional parties lost vote base when the general and assembly elections were held together.

“Actually, regional parties are supported by marginals and simultaneous elections can lead supressing of their voices. It can reduce importance of regional parties, which is not good for the diversity and the federal structure of the country,” he held.

Lately, Prime Minister Narendra Modi suggested the plan of simultaneous elections, which has generated mixed reactions from all quarters.

Quraishi said the demand was raised in the past as well by senior leaders like L.K. Advani of the Bharatiya Janata Party and Vasant Sathe of the Congress.

The participants noted that there were 70 countries where simultaneous elections were operational.