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One year, one election: Law Commission writes to all ‘stakeholder’ parties, seeks views, meeting

With less than a year left for the Lok Sabha election, the Law Commission of India has written to all chiefs of political parties seeking their views as stakeholder on the proposal to hold simultaneous elections to the Lok Sabha and state Assemblies. According to a report in The Indian Express, the letters were dispatched on Wednesday to all the heads of the recognised political parties in the country, urging them to convey a sense of urgency on the matter. Besides, it also emphasises that the issue remains a priority for the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). At present, there are seven recognised national parties and 49 state parties. In its letter, the Law Commission has asked parties to suggest when they can drop in at the Law Commission offices for a meeting to share their views on the issue. The Commission has also proposed a meeting of parties on July 7 and 8. It said that the parties, if they so wish, can send proposals and ideas to the Commission in writing by June 30. The report said that so far, no Chief Minister barring Yogi Adityanath of Uttar Pradesh (BJP) and V Narayanasamy of Puducherry (Congress) has got back to the Commission on the matter. While Adityanath has extended his support on holding simultaneous elections, Narayanasamy has rejected it. The Commission said that it is acting on Prime Minister Narendra Modi Ever since Modi took over as the PM of the country, he had been pitching for holding elections simultaneously to cut the expenses and give more free hands to the governments to work. During his speech to mark national Law event in November 2017, he had said that the country was placed tremendous financial burden due to frequent elections. Rs 1,100 crore and 4,000 crore were spent in 2009 and 2014 Lok Sabha elections, respectively. On April 16, the Legal Affairs Department of the government had sent a reference to the Law Commission, asking it to explore all prospects of holding elections together and make recommendations. In its recommendations, the Law Commission said that in 2019, half of the state assemblies can go to polls with the parliamentary elections and rest in 2024. Besides, it also suggested relaxing the Tenth Schedule or anti-defection law to ensure elected governments remain stable. It had also recommended that in case of mid-term polls, the new government can be elected for the remaining term, and not five years. The report added that decision to hold simultaneous elections will involve at least five Constitutional amendments. But the Commission has held that countries like South Africa, Sweden and Belgium have such system. India had held simultaneous elections until 1967, but the pattern was interrupted afterwards.

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