There have been demands to review the decision of the Election Commission to delay the results in multi-phased Assembly elections involving different states. The argument is that since political situations vary in different states, the Election Commission should not delay the results of a particular state Assembly election.
While elections for the Assemblies of Goa and Punjab took place on 4 February, the same for Uttarakhand will take place on 15 February. Seven-phase polling for the UP Assembly started on Saturday and will continue till 8 March. Elections for the Manipur Assembly will also be held on 4 and 8 March. However, results for all the Assembly elections would be declared on 11 March.
“There is no point delaying the election results. If voting for Goa and Punjab has taken place, what is the point holding the results till 11 March?
“The argument that the results may influence elections in the next phases is absurd as the political situations in different states are totally different. How will Goa results affect UP elections? The issues are different, players are different,” said a political thinker.
Jayaprakash Narayan, general secretary of Foundation for Democratic Reforms and ex-member of National Advisory Council, said: “I am against prolonging the election process. It’s a pain for the people of India to see such a long, staggered election. Regarding delaying the results of multi-phased elections, I would go one step ahead. In my view, we should have ‘direct elections’ for states. This will substantially reduce money power and corruption.”
According to Sanjay Kumar of Centre for the Study of Developing Societies (CSDS), there is a ‘very tiny’ proportion who would tend to be influenced by the results of the voting pattern in other states and go by that pattern, and therefore there is no harm in announcing the results.
“There can be two views on it. But at least there should be a debate on how the process can be cut short. For example, in the present case, elections in Goa and Punjab should have been held close to the final result day. Why delay the results there for such a long time?” he asked.
Kumar, however, said: “If results are announced, there may be a ‘Bandwagon Effect’, meaning people in other states might go with the voting pattern of a neighbouring state. But there can be an ‘Underdog Effect’ as well. If people of a particular state do not want a particular party to come to power and if that party comes to power in another state, then they would tend to vote ‘against’ that party to make sure that it does not come to power in their state. So there are multiple sides to the idea and any decision should be taken after thorough discussion.”
Maj. General (Retired) Anil Verma of Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) said: “We have not though about the issue. But I think the Elections Commission holds counting of votes with the assumption that the results may affect voting in the subsequent phases. Probably the EC wants to create a level playing field for all political parties.”
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has already called for a national debate on holding simultaneous elections. The Election Commission has suggested Constitutional amendment so that terms of all state assemblies come to an end on the date on which term of the Lok Sabha is expiring.