New Delhi :Former President Pranab Mukhejree today found the idea of having simultaneous elections to the Lok Sabha and state Assemblies “very difficult”, citing practical problems in implementing the plan.
At a time when Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the BJP are pushing hard for a debate on the issue on the grounds that it would save cost and help in governance, Pranab felt the Constitution could be amended to provide for the course to be adopted if governments are unable to complete their terms.
“Simultaneous elections are very difficult… there are many flaws that will need to be adequately addressed if the pre-1967 electoral arrangements of simultaneous elections have to be effected,” he said delivering the 15th DT Lakdawala Memorial Lecture on “Parliamentary democracy and its challenges today” at Jawharlal Nehru Memorial Library here. It was organised by the Institute of Social Science and presided over by Jammu and Kashmir Governor NN Vohra.
Pranab also identified four challenges that needed to be addressed. These include increasing the number of sittings of Parliament and state Assemblies; eschewing the habit of disruptions that allow the government to get away from being held accountable; lesser parliamentary scrutiny of budgets and allocation of grants without debates; and decline in standards and violation of rules framed by the Houses.
In his presidential speech, Governor Vohra touched upon the growing criticism about the functioning of Parliament, dissatisfaction relating to disorderly conduct, and day-to-day disruptions that cost 600-hour loss in the 15th Lok Sabha.
“Criticism has also been made that instead of contributing to meaningful debates on serious problems facing the nation, parliamentarians representing certain parties make speeches that disturb harmony and promote divisiveness,” he said.
He also underlined the growing concern that unless the functioning of the parliamentary system becomes far more responsive and accountable, a situation may arise in which the citizenry begins to lose faith in the political process.
He said there was a need to introduce transparency in funding of parties and legal steps to ensure internal elections in all parties.