During the general election of 2019 the vision of ‘One Nation-One Election’ coined out and became a trending topic of discussions. ‘One Nation-One Election’ is an idea to held elections to Lok Sabha and all the States Assemblies together.
It is also known as ‘Simultaneous Polls’ .
One of the main proponents of this concept is the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi himself and the idea is supported by the current President Shri Ram Nath Kovind as well as the former President Shri Pranab Mukherjee. Presently elections to the State Assemblies and Lok Sabha take place separately-that is whenever the incumbent government’s five year term ends or whenever it is dissolved due to various reasons.
Background of ‘One Nation – One Election
The idea of “One Nation One Election” is not new for India. India had the system of One Nation One Election and implemented it during the general elections held in 1952, 1957, 1962 and 1967. This practice was discontinued in 1968-69, on the grounds that some Legislative Assemblies were broken up due to different reasons. From that point India has been making a decent attempt to embrace the old election system but there is no consensus among the political parties.
During the past few years, it has been observed that every now and then elections are happening in one or other state of India. The State Administration and Election Commission of India have to connect with its assets, labor to conduct the election. India is known as the largest democratic country of the world and unless there are mid-term polls due to dissolution of Lok Sabha or State Assembly for any reason, the general elections of Lok Sabha and state assemblies are supposed to be conducted after every five years.
Most people opposing the idea say that the concept is unconstitutional and anything which is contrary to the constitution cannot be followed in India since in India it is the Constitution which is supreme. In reality the constitution does not clearly say whether we can or we cannot have the policy of ‘one nation, one election’.
Simultaneous Polls are Beneficial:
- Simultaneous polls will reduce enormous costs involved in separate elections.
- The system will help ruling parties focus on governance instead of being constantly in election mode.
- Simultaneous polls will boost voter turnout. According to the Law Commission, It is expected that the number and percentage of voters actually coming out of their houses to vote would increase if simultaneous elections are held.
- There are 4120 MLAs in the 31 states and UTs the use limit for assembly election is Rs.28 lacks. It implies that absolute expense would be somewhere around Rs. 11 billon. Normally around 5 states go for elections each year.
- Code of Conduct during election period is imposed and it happens every now and then in one or other state. When the Model Code of Conduct is in force, new projects for public welfare cannot be launched. Accordingly, one time election will ensure continuity in policies, projects and programmes of the central and state governments.
- If elections are not held frequently, the administration will go ahead with worthwhile plans and development based projects instead of election season focused plans.
Simultaneous Polls are Against the Democracy:
- National and state issues are different, and holding simultaneous elections is likely to affect the judgment of voters.
- Since elections will be held once in five years, it will reduce the government’s accountability to the people. Repeated elections keep legislators on their toes and increases accountability.
- When an election in a State is postponed until the synchronised phase, President’s rule will have to be imposed in the interim period in that state. This will be a blow to democracy and federalism.
- The elections for state assemblies and Lok Sabha are fought on different issues. Regional parties target local issues while national parties target national issues. So there is a possibility that regional parties will not be able to raise the local issues strongly.
- India is the largest democracy in the world so it will be daunting task to conduct simultaneous election in all the states, UTs and Lok Sabha.
Government’s Take on this
The present government is very serious to implement this vision. Simultaneous Polls is one of the major agendas in the manifesto of Bhartiya Janta Party. An all party meeting called on by PM Narendra Modi to discuss the above issue. Only 21 parties attended the meeting. Eleven major parties in the political front of India including Indian National Congress voiced their opinion against this ambitious proposal by skipping the all party meeting on the issue.
Analysis based on Party Politics
In the present scenario it seems tough to adopt the system of “One Nation One Election” because the regional parties will not agree to adopt this system because they have experienced the worst defeat in the recent Lok Sabha elections. Parties like Congress, are strong opponent of this. As they still do not have a strong face as the central leader and ‘one nation, one election’ might lead to it losing even in the states where it is in power.
As far as the concern of BJP, the party always advocates to centralize the power. Thus the NDA government is floating the idea. The NDA returned to rule with such a thumping majority and according to a survey, there are 77% chances that the Indian voter will vote for the same party for both the state and Centre when elections are held simultaneously because India is a union of states and the central government allots huge money to the government of the same party in the states. Most of the opinion polls have shown that people support PM Modi but are not happy with their respective Chief Ministers which might lead to a loss to BJP in the coming state assembly elections in various states like Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan etc. However, if we have ‘one nation, one election’ the chances of BJP coming into power become high. Thus the NDA government is quite sensitive to implement the idea.
However the idea of ‘One Nation – One Election’ will give advantages like saving of man-power and government treasury which will ultimately help in the growth and development of our nation.
On the contrary note, the idea will vanish India’s heterogeneity and federalism. It will harm the different political ideologies, necessary in democracy. Apart that the major drawback is that the local issues, which affected more, will be ignored. Merging these two plays would deprive the citizen her right to demand services at two different levels.