The Election Commission has urged the Union government to amend the laws in order to bar a person from contesting polls from more than one seat, PTI reported on Friday. Chief Election Commissioner Rajiv Kumar made the demand during an interaction with the legislative secretary of the Union law ministry.
In 1996, the Representation of the People Act was amended to allow a person to contest from only two seats in an election. Prior to that, there was no limit on the number of seats that candidates could contest.
The poll panel has now asked the Centre to allow a person to contest from only one seat at a time. It has also said that if that is not possible, a fine should be imposed to deter the practice.
“When a candidate contests from two seats, it is imperative that he has to vacate one of the two seats, should he win both,” the Hindustan Times quoted an unidentified person familiar with the matter as saying. “This...would be an injustice to voters of the constituency which the candidate is quitting from.”
Such a situation would also lead to a burden on the public exchequer, and bye polls would require staffing and other resources, the person said.
There have been several prominent instances of political leaders contesting elections from multiple constituencies. In the 2014 Lok Sabha election, Prime Minister Narendra Modi contested from the constituencies of Vadodara in Gujarat and Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh. He won from both places, after which he relinquished the Vadodara seat.
In the 2019 Lok Sabha election, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi contested from Amethi in Uttar Pradesh and Wayanad in Kerala. He lost from Amethi, and became the Member of Parliament from Wayanad.
Rajiv Kumar, after taking over as the Chief Election Commissioner on May 15, also sent five other proposals to the law ministry, according to The Indian Express. The proposals include linking Aadhaar with voter ID cards, giving eligible citizens four dates to register as voters, and banning opinion and exit polls.