What is One Nation, One Election?:
Simultaneous elections, often referred to as “One Nation, One Election,” is a concept gaining prominence in Indian politics. It envisions the synchronization of elections for Lok Sabha, State Legislative Assemblies, Panchayats, and Urban local bodies once every five years. This idea has garnered attention, especially after receiving support from the Prime Minister and former President of India. However, it remains a contentious issue among political parties.
In this article, we delve into the pros and cons of implementing simultaneous elections and explore possible recommendations and challenges associated with this significant electoral reform.
Pros of implementing simultaneous polls:
- One of the primary advantages of holding simultaneous elections is the substantial reduction in financial and administrative expenses. Political parties allocate significant resources to election campaigns, and over the years, the cost has escalated dramatically.
- For instance, in the 1951 elections, 53 political parties contested, with declared expenses amounting to 11 crores. In contrast, the 2019 elections saw a staggering 610 political parties contesting, with expenses reaching a reported 60,000 crores according to ADR (Association for Democratic Reforms).
- Another crucial benefit is the opportunity for the government to engage in constructive work. The prolonged imposition of the model code of conduct during separate elections hinders developmental and welfare activities.
- With simultaneous polls, ruling parties can focus on legislation and governance instead of being in a perpetual campaign mode.
- Additionally, it would free up the state and district-level administrative and security machinery, which is currently preoccupied with conducting elections twice in a span of five years.
Moreover, the education sector is significantly impacted as a large number of teachers are involved in the electoral process during separate elections, leading to disruptions in the learning environment.
Cons of implementing simultaneous polls:
- Implementing simultaneous elections in India would necessitate several amendments to the constitution.
- Articles 83 and 172 of the Constitution provide for the tenure of Lok Sabha, Rajya Sabha, and State Legislative Assemblies, which would need modification. Furthermore, provisions allowing extensions during emergencies would also require reconsideration.
- The Representation of People Act 1951, which governs various aspects of elections in India, would need amendments to accommodate simultaneous elections.
- Critics argue that this move threatens the federal character of Indian democracy. National parties may benefit from economies of scale, disadvantaging regional parties and potentially skewing the representation.
- Many believe that simultaneous elections are not aligned with the constitutional fabric and may undermine federalism and representative democracy.
- The Law Commission of India recommended simultaneous elections to Lok Sabha and State Legislative Assemblies.
- Additionally, the parliamentary standing committee on Law and Justice’s 79th report suggested a two-phase election schedule, one concurrent with Lok Sabha elections and the second mid-term.
- The Election Commission has also expressed its in-principle support for simultaneous elections.
- Political parties have been divided on the issue of simultaneous elections during consultations with the Law Commission of India.
- Curtailing or extending the tenure of a House raises legal questions.
- The complexity of India’s parliamentary system, which is unique and challenging, poses a significant challenge to implementing simultaneous elections.
- It necessitates a political consensus, as it requires constitutional amendments.
- While “One Nation, One Election” holds promise, its successful execution hinges on meticulous planning, adherence to policies, and bolstering administrative and security capabilities.
- A dedicated group comprising constitutional experts, think tanks, government officials, and political party representatives should collaborate to work out the practical implementation details.
- In conclusion, the concept of simultaneous elections in India is a multifaceted issue with its set of advantages and challenges. Striking the right balance between these aspects and ensuring a robust framework for its execution is vital to realize the potential benefits of this electoral reform.