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Although simultaneous Central and State elections were the norm in India for the first two decades of the Republic, legal and political developments have ensured that the cycle of elections has been broken such that every year sees major elections, either a group of States or the Union Parliament. In the last few years, a proposal has been mooted to have simultaneous elections at both Union and State levels once in every five years. This has been suggested ostensibly to meet two objectives – to prevent disruptions in governance due to elections and to reduce the cost of holding multiple elections every year. The Law Commission has proposed certain mechanisms and constitutional changes by which simultaneous elections can be held.
This proposal has met with multiple levels of criticism. The justification for the proposal, cost and governance, has been questioned pointing out that neither of these are necessary or sufficient reasons to tamper with constitutional scheme. Even if it is accepted that these are issues to be sorted out, another level of dispute is that proposing simultaneous elections centralizes all issues creating a diminished federalism, and favouring national parties over regional ones. Finally there’s the charge that the kinds of changes required to have simultaneous elections require such a fundamental change to the Constitution that it requires abandoning the Westminster form of Parliamentary democracy almost entirely.
Prof. M V Rajeev Gowda is an Indian politician and academician. He is a member of parliament in the Rajya Sabha since July 2014 and a national spokesperson for the Indian National Congress. He also currently serves as Chairman of the “Congress Research Department” He was Professor of Economics and Social Sciences and the Chairperson of the Centre for Public Policy at the Indian Institute of Management, Bangalore and has taught a range of courses. He served as the Director of the Central Board,Reserve Bank of India. He is currently the Advisor for Bridge India, a progressive non-profit think tank set up In London in 2018.
Tejasvi Surya recently became a Member of Parliament from Bengaluru South at 28 years. An advocate by profession, Tejasvi practises at the High Court of Karnataka, taking up issues of public and national importance.
Tejasvi has served in important positions in the ABVP and BJP before being chosen as the BJP party candidate from Bengaluru South. Tejasvi is an ardent follower of Swami Vivekananda, Dr BR Ambedkar and Veer Savarkar, is well read on history, religion, and spirituality.
Tejasvi studies at St Paul’s School in Belagavi and also served as the Head Boy at the Sri Kumaran Children’s Home in Bengaluru. He is a recipient of the Balaratna Award. He built his profile at the National PU College in Jayanagar, Bengaluru.He took interest in public policy at the Bangalore Institute of Legal Studies.
A journalist for over thirty years, Neena Gopal began her career in a Bangalore that was the hotbed of post-Emergency politics. Moving to the UAE in the 1980s, she worked for the Dubai-based daily Gulf News where, as foreign editor, she travelled the Middle East during and after Operation Desert Storm, the first Gulf War in 1990, covering war-torn Iraq and its neighbours through the Second Gulf War in 2003. Neena’s news-hunting ground however has been India and its immediate neighbourhood, both as a foreign affairs journalist and as a close observer of the life and times of many leaders in India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Afghanistan. Author of the tell all book, The Assassination of Rajiv Gandhi, she currently edits the Bangalore edition of Deccan Chronicle and is neck deep in tracking political developments.
Malavika Prasad is an advocate and doctoral fellow at Nalsar University of Law. Her goal is to understand and help bridge the gulf between the Constitution of India and the constitution of India. To move towards this aim, she designs and runs educational activities for children and young adults on engaging as proactive citizens in Indian democracy, and writes for media-houses such as The Caravan. Previously, she has worked on both sides of the Bar, clerking for a judge of the Delhi High Court, and as an advocate in the Supreme Court of India and other courts and tribunals. She holds degrees from Nalsar University of Law, Hyderabad and the University of Michigan Law School as a Grotius Fellow.
Alok Prasanna Kumar
Alok Prasanna Kumar is an Advocate and Senior Resident Fellow at Vidhi Centre for Legal Policy, where he heads the Karnataka office. He has previously practiced in the Supreme Court of India and Delhi High Court from the chambers of Mr Mohan Parasaran, Senior Advocate and been Central Government panel counsel. He writes a monthly column for the Economic and Political Weekly called “Law and Society” and is a co-host of the politics podcast, Ganatantra.