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Holding simultaneous polls is against federal structure of Indian constitution: Jagdeep Chhokar

Speaking at the Western Regional Consultation on Electoral and Political Reforms, organized by the Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) and the Gujarat Election Watch (GEW) in Ahmedabad, top academic Prof Jagdeep Chhokar, founder-trustee, ADR, said that the federal structure is “basic to the Indian Constitution and holding simultaneous elections is against the federal nature of the constitution and it will amount to changing the constitution itself.” He added, one main reason given by the government to hold simultaneous elections is to bring down the cost of elections, though “nobody knows the exact amount of election expenditure during elections.”
Speaking on electoral malpractices, former Gujarat chief minister Suresh Mehta said the main reason for for this is “lack of manpower with the Election Commission of India (ECI)”, adding, “During elections ECI is dependent on state administration and therefore it is unable to curb electoral malpractices effectively as they are under pressure from the ruling party in government.” Pointing towards “misuse of money power in elections”, he recommended, “ECI should have greater powers to punish election officers who are non-serious in combatting the menace of electoral malpractices.”
Prof Rohit Shukla, president, Drushti Foundation, expressed his apprehensions regarding ‘electoral bonds’ and the recent steps taken by the Government of India (GoI) by change relevant provisions of the Income tax Act, the Representation of People’s Act 1951 and the Companies Act 2013. He said, “The implications could be retrograde as far as transparency is concerned. He underlined the need to inculcate attributes with regard to funding of political parties that will enhance their transparency and accountability aspects rather than making it more and more opaque.”
Among those who participated in the discussions included Pankti Jog, Gujarat state coordinator, GEW, and Maj Gen Anil Verma (retd), who is head, ADR, apart from representatives of non-profit organizations, government bodies, political parties, media and academia.

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