The article critically analysis the idea of holding simultaneous elections at the Centre and the State.
- There is no greater need today than for the country to vigorously pursue and implement the idea of ‘one nation, one election’. With India on the cusp of achieving rapid economic growth, we must ensure that development on all fronts is not hampered by frequent elections.
Need for holding simultaneous elections: Simultaneous elections would reduce-
- The massive expenditure that is currently incurred for the conduct of separate elections;
- The policy paralysis that results from the imposition of the Model Code of Conduct during election time;
- Impact on delivery of essential services and
- Burden on crucial manpower that is deployed during election time.
Some recommendations of the Standing Committee on Personnel, Public Grievances, Law and Justice report on the Feasibility of Holding Simultaneous Elections to House of People (Lok Sabha) and State Legislative Assemblies:
- Conditions for holding early elections: The Committee noted that the Representation of People Act, 1951 permits the Election Commission to notify general elections six months prior to the end of the terms of Lok Sabha and state assemblies.
The Committee recommended that in order to hold early elections to Lok Sabha and state legislative assemblies, one of two conditions must be met:
- A motion for an early general election must be agreed to by at least two-thirds of all members of the House; or
- A no confidence motion must be passed by the House, and with no alternative government being confirmed within 14 days of passing a confidence motion.
- Holding of elections in two phases: The Committee recommended that elections could be held in two phases. It stated that elections to some Legislative Assemblies could be held during the midterm of Lok Sabha.
- Elections to the remaining legislative assemblies could be held with the end of Lok Sabha's term.
- Recommendations of the Law Commission: Elections of legislative assemblies whose term ends six months after the general elections to Lok Sabha can be clubbed together. However, the results of such elections can be declared at the end of the assembly's tenure.
Criticism of the idea:
- Simultaneous elections would affect the federal polity and democracy of our country. It might change the character from federal to unitary mode.
- There will be a tendency among voters to choose the same party at the Centre and the State.
- Besides, there is also talk that national issues would dominate the agenda of the political parties, particularly pan-India parties, during simultaneous elections, while relegating State and regional issues to the background.
- The fears that holding simultaneous elections would affect the federal nature of the Indian polity appear to be completely unfounded. As a matter of fact, it would help in better coordination between the governments at the Centre and in various States, rather than moving the country towards becoming a unitary state.
- India’s parliamentary democracy, based on strong constitutional principles, is mature enough not to slip into a unitary model just because of simultaneous elections. The country will achieve progress and remain strong only when the Centre and States act as equal partners, irrespective of the political differences of those governing at the national and regional levels.
- Holding simultaneous elections would make our democracy stronger and healthier as it would provide a level playing field to all the players across all States rather than giving an advantage to a few players here and there due to their political equations with the party in power at the Centre.
- India’s vibrant political diversity is too good to allow same party domination always at the Centre and the States.
- The advantages of holding simultaneous elections far outweigh the disadvantages as the process would not only vastly reduce the burden on the exchequer, but put an end to the practice of frequent deployment of police and other government staff on election duty in different States.
- No doubt, conducting concurrent elections is a humongous logistical task in terms of deployment of personnel, EVMs and other material. But the time has come to make a beginning and ensure political and administrative stability both at the Central and State levels for the country to march unhindered on the path to progress.
The advantages of holding simultaneous elections far outweigh the disadvantages as the process would not only vastly reduce the burden on the exchequer, but put an end to the practice of frequent deployment of police and other government staff on election duty in different States. In the light of this statement, critically analyse the idea of holding simultaneous elections at the Centre and States.
- Need for simultaneous elections.
- Limitations of this idea.