Why the BJP is pushing for simultaneous elections and how will they be implemented - By Shoaib Daniyal - IAMC
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Why the BJP is pushing for simultaneous elections and how will they be implemented – By Shoaib Daniyal

…It is not a coincidence that a national party such as the BJP is pushing the idea while regional parties are opposing it. Simultaneous polls could help parties that have a multi-state presence. A study by the public-policy think tank IDFC Institute parsed electoral data from four Lok Sabha elections – 1999, 2004, 2009 and 2014. The data analysis shows that “on average, there is a 77% chance that the Indian voter will vote for the same party for both the state and Centre when elections are held simultaneously,” a trend that the study calls an “undesirable impact on voter behaviour”.

This inference is backed by another study by Jagdeep Chhokar, a former professor, dean, and director in-charge of the Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad, and Sanjay Kumar, director of the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies, Delhi. Chhokar and Kumar analysed 31 instances of simultaneous state and Lok Sabha elections since 1989. The result: “In 24 of those elections the major political parties polled almost a similar proportion of votes both for the Assembly and the Lok Sabha, while only in seven instances was the choice of voters somewhat different.” As a result, its critics feel holding polls simultaneously will undermine Indian federalism.

The other argument is that elections are a check on governments in India. In the Emergency, for example, both the judiciary and most of the pressfolded in front of the Union government. It was only the process of elections that acted as an effective check, unseating Indira Gandhi from office in 1977. So while its proposers argue that fewer elections would allow government to focus on the long term, the flip side is also that it would place less pressure on governments to work for the voter.