Karnataka is gearing up for the November 3 bypolls in two Assembly and three Lok Sabha constituencies. While filling up the two Assembly vacancies is a necessity, holding polls for the unoccupied parliamentary seats, though technically mandatory, is pointless. With general elections around the corner, the new MPs from Mandya, Shivamogga and Ballari will have only a few months to do their duty as representatives.
The Election Commission has defended the decision to hold the bypolls on the grounds that the term of the 16th Lok Sabha ends only in June next year and these seats fell vacant in May this year, thus increasing the vacancy period beyond one year. But what must be noted here is that the EC let five months pass after the vacancies arose.
This seems like a mere attempt to fulfil the constitutional obligation, without any application of mind. Conducting elections in three Lok Sabha constituencies is expected to cost about `24 crore of public money, besides the money that parties and candidates will spend. The perceived futility of the exercise has prompted a petition in the Karnataka High Court seeking the cancellation of bypolls.
It is also important to note here that as many as 11 Lok Sabha seats are currently unrepresented but elections are being held only for the three Karnataka seats. Five of the vacant seats are in Andhra Pradesh, where five YSR Congress Party MPs submitted their resignations in April, but they were accepted only on June 6. What it shows is that the EC is hiding behind mere technicality to hold elections to one set of seats and let others go unrepresented for the remainder of the term.
At this point of time, the Lok Sabha bypolls in Karnataka can achieve no better purpose than allowing parties to prove a point ahead of the general elections. The wise thing to do would have been to hold a meeting of stakeholders and explore the possibility of not conducting elections, considering that these seats will again go to polls in about six months from now.