Simultaneous polls subject to certain conditions, consensus: CEC

New Delhi, Oct 19 (IANS) Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Nasim Zaidi on Wednesday said the election panel was ready to hold simultaneous Lok Sabha and state assembly elections if certain conditions are met, including political consensus and more resources.

He said two primary issues have to be taken care of in the matter.

“First, several constitutional amendments will have to be made; and second, there has to be a consensus among all political parties,” Zaidi told IANS on the sidelines of a two-day international conference on voter education organised by the Election Commission of India here.

“If these two things are done, we can hold simultaneous elections. Of course, we would need extra resources, such as more electronic voting machines etc.,” he added.

He said the Election Commission has already written to the Law Ministry on the issue, after the ministry sought the poll panel’s opinion on the 79th Report of the Department-related Parliamentary Committee on the ‘Feasibility of Holding Simultaneous Elections to the House of People (Lok Sabha) and State Legislative Assemblies’.

Though Zaidi stressed on greater voter participation for a meaningful electoral process, he ruled out the option of compulsory voting.

He termed it “impractical” in the Indian context to punish those who are eligible but abstain from voting.

“The provision of punishing people for not casting their votes is impractical in India, given the sheer size of the electorate,” the CEC said.

Asked how can the EC curb promises made by some political parties and candidates, or attempts to polarise the electorate on communal/caste lines, ahead of assembly elections in five states, Zaidi said once the Model Code of Conduct comes into force in these states, the poll panel will exercise all its powers to ensure free and fair elections.

“The Election Commission is not helpless in any manner. We have sufficient powers bestowed by the Constitution. Once the Model Code of Conduct comes into force, we will exercise all our powers to ensure that voters cast their votes without fear or pressure or inducement,” Zaidi said.

–IANS

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