CPI (M) opposes simultaneous elections proposal, calls it “anti-democratic and anti-federal”

By Abdul Bari Masoud, MuslimMirror.com,

New Delhi: The Communist Party of India (Marxist) on Wednesday said it is “totally opposed to any artificial attempt to bring about holding simultaneous elections to the Lok Sabha and State Legislative Assemblies. The party told to the Law Commission that the proposal is “fundamentally anti-democratic and strikes at the root of the parliamentary democratic system and federal structure” of the country as ordained in the Constitution.

In response to the Law Commission of India’s letter seeking the opinion of CPI(M) on the issue of holding simultaneous elections, party General Secretary Sitaram Yechury said the simultaneous elections can only be held by “trampling upon” the existing Constitutional scheme of parliamentary democracy.

At the behest of the present government, particularly the Prime Minister’s advocacy of simultaneous elections, the Law Commission has been seeking opinions of political parties.

In our opinion, the consideration of the proposal for simultaneous elections goes well beyond the ambit of a law reform and would entail major amendments to the Indian Constitution and it would run against both the letter and spirit of our Constitution, Yechury said.

In his letter, the communist leader underlined the fact that “The Indian Constitution defines the centrality of the will of the people. The preamble defines this most eloquently by stating, “We, the People of India” and “Do hereby Adopt, Enact and Give to ourselves this Constitution”.

He also pointed out that the proposal is “inherently anti-democratic and negates” the principles of federalism which is a fundamental feature of our Constitution.

Describing the proposal as “impractical”, he said it would require tampering with the Constitutional scheme of accountability of the government to the legislature.

“Article 75 (3) states that the collective responsibility of the Council of Ministers is to the House of the People. Similarly, Article 164 (1) concerning the Council of Ministers states that it is collectively responsible to the legislative assembly of the state.”

He pointed out a very significant issue that if a government loses the confidence of the legislature either by being voted out on a no-confidence motion, or, losing a vote on a Money Bill, it is bound to resign and If no alternative government can be formed, the House is dissolved and a mid-term election held.

“There is no fixity of tenure enshrined in the Constitution either for the Lok Sabha or, for the state legislatures. Both Article 83 (2) and Article 172 (1) specify that the term of the Lok Sabha and the Legislative Assembly will be for five years “unless sooner dissolved”.

Any attempt to prolong the life of the Lok Sabha, or, legislature will be not only unconstitutional but anti-democratic. It is the will of the people through their elected representatives that must prevail, he said.

In order to bring about simultaneous elections, there are various suggestions being made to amend the Constitution. One of the suggestions made by a discussion paper released by the Niti Aayog is that if the dissolution of the Lok Sabha cannot be avoided and the remainder of the term of the Lok Sabha is not long, then a provision can be made for the President to carry out the administration of the country, on the aid and advice of a Council of Ministers to be appointed by him/her till the next House is constituted.

Yechury pointed out that this outrageous proposal would make the President head the executive and this is bringing an executive Presidency through the back door.

The other casualty of the proposal will be federalism. One of the proposals for aligning the Lok Sabha and state Assembly elections made by the 79th Report of the Parliamentary Standing Committee, 2015 and the Niti Aayog paper is to extend the life of some of the assemblies, or, shorten the tenure of some in a phased manner. He said both the reductions of the tenure of the assembly, or, its extension is an assault on the rights of the states and circumscribes the rights of citizens to elect their legislators.

Communist leader warned that India is a vast country with myriad diversities and only a federal set-up can sustain political democracy.

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