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EC backs joint polls but says 5 changes in statute needed | India News

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NEW DELHI: Aligning national elections with state polls faces significant hurdles as the move — strongly backed by PM Narendra Modi — may need amendments to not less than five Articles of the Constitution, including those relating to duration and dissolution of the Lok Sabha and assemblies.

While giving its views after getting advice on the matter from the Election Commission, an internal note of the Union law ministry has spoken about the constitutional challenges to paving the way for simultaneous polls — an issue raised by Modi as also the President.

Though the EC has supported simultaneous polls, its riders are significant, even as the EC said terms of state legislatures could be extended, or curtailed, to coincide with LS polls. Article 83, dealing with duration of Houses of Parliament may need amendment.

EC: Additional EVMs/VVPATs worth Rs 2,000 crore will be needed

Other Articles that may need amendment include Article 85, regarding dissolution of the Lok Sabha by the President; and Article 172, relating to duration of state legislatures, Article 174 relating to dissolution of state assemblies; and Article 356, the law ministry report said.

It also made a firm pitch for widespread consultations with political parties, noting, “Having regard to the federal structure of our system of governance, it is imperative that consensus of all state governments is obtained.”

This is an important point of view that only serves to underline the need for a two-thirds majority in both Houses of Parliament for any sweeping changes in the electoral calendar. “Additional EVMs/VVPATs worth about Rs 2,000 crore will be required. Considering that the life of a machine is only 15 years, this will imply that the machine be used about three or four times in its lifespan, entailing a huge expenditure in its replacement after every 15 years,” the EC said.

“The EC has examined the issue and supported the idea of simultaneous elections,” a source told TOI. The EC’s views were sought by the government in response to a private member’s bill in Rajya Sabha and it has set out possible amendments to the Constitution to ensure that Lok Sabha and state assemblies complete their full terms and are not brought down by political uncertainty.

Giving its observations, the EC said, “In order to avoid premature dissolution, it may be provided that any ‘no-confidence motion’ moved against the government in office should also necessarily include a further ‘confidence motion’ in favour of a government to be headed by a named individual as the future PM and voting should take place for two motions together.”

Updated: February 4, 2018 — 7:45 pm

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