Syllabus: General Studies Paper 2 (Indian Polity)
Discuss the merits and demerits of the concept of “one nation, one election” for Indian polity.
Frequent Elections is big problem In India. Election Commission of India conduct Election after one or two or three months in India. Frequent elections hamper long-term policymaking because every decision is seen as bait for votes. Hence to end this vicious cycle of elections, PM Modi had recommended holding of simultaneous Lok Sabha and Assembly elections all over the country.
What is one nation and one election?
System of ‘one nation one election’ implies election process for both centre and state legislatures simultaneously all over the country.
India had seen simultaneous elections during 1952-1967 period but after that election cycles for Lok Sabha and state legislatures became unsynchronized.
Merits of simultaneous elections
- The idea of ‘one nation, one election’ will drastically cut the election expenditure
- Preparing and conducting elections costs the public exchequer hundreds of crore each time.
- The money is mostly spent on arrangements, salaries and security.
- Holding simultaneous polls will lead to significant savings of public funds that can be better utilised elsewhere.
- The government will be able to focus on legislation and governance
- With elections taking place at various schedules, political parties and ministers are always in election mode.
- This disrupts and distorts agendas with parties deferring reforms or make decisions with short-term views, thereby depriving citizens of clear policies.
- Holding simultaneous elections will ensure that the ministers can dedicate a good four years towards implementing policies and doing constructive work for their constituencies.
- Reducing party expenses
- All political parties spend large sums of money in ensuring that no stone is left Unturned during campaigning
- Better deployment of security forces
- Frequent elections impose a burden on human resources.
- Other than money, the other significant resource needed in abundance is the deployment of security forces. Holding simultaneous elections to the Lok Sabha and the state legislatures it will free up security forces, who are diverted from their core duties for each election.
- Model Code of Conduct (MCC) prevents announcements of new schemes
- With elections being announced the MCC comes into force.
Challenges and concerns for implementing One Nation One Election idea
- Over shadowing the states
- One fallout of implementing this is that a bigger ‘centralised’ agenda would overshadow the states and their regional issues. The current diffused system allows each state to push their individual agenda during state elections – something that would be difficult to do in collective polls.
- Synchronisation would involve curtailment or extension of the tenure of a House.
- Tenure of state governments have to be tempered with initially so as to accommodate the idea.
- Constitutional Amendments
- To pass these amendments, they require special majorities in Lok Sabha & Rajya Sabha.
- This would be a challenging task for the Govt. to build consensus among various political outfits, which have certain biases.
- Needs amendments in constitutional articles like art 82, 83, 171, 172, 356 etc as well as in RPA 1951 which will be a difficult task.
- Politicians may become complacent
- Politicians are kept on their toes when they are regularly worried about the routine elections where they will be accountable.
- They know that they are responsible for the actions of his party members and something goes wrong, they will be held responsible. This fear is good to keep them under control.
- Reducing the number of elections would make them lazy for the rest of the term and suddenly become hyperactive during the election year.
- The Election Commission sometimes holds elections to even one state in many phases.
- Given this, holding simultaneous elections for the whole country has many practical difficulties.
- Lok Sabha elections along with elections to assembly and Panchayat is not as easy as it looks like.
- It will have various complications as the villages and the cities together gear for voting.
- There may also be shortage of administrative staff, equipment, logistics and security.
- Less care at the voting centres may further incite trouble and corrupt processes being carried out unchecked. Ex: booth capturing, rigging.
- Lok Sabha and assembly elections were held simultaneously until the mid-1960s, but the premature dissolution of state assemblies in subsequent years disturbed the cycle. In several instances, the Lok Sabha also suffered the same fate.
- It is possible for Lok Sabha to be prematurely dissolved on account of a vote of no-confidence.
- It is still uncertain if all Assemblies would also be dissolved in that case.
- And in case of a mid-term election, the term of such a House would only be for the remainder of its tenure.
One India, One election is an interesting concept, the proposal will not only have economic benefits but will free up precious political space for policy discussions. It will also help in taking forward the process of economic reforms as decisions will not always be hostage to assembly elections. But whether it will decrease the evils that the nation or government wants to get rid of needs to be examined thoroughly. The concerns and suggestions of different stakeholders will have to be considered in order to build political consensus around the idea.
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