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About One-Nation One – Election

Context:

The government has established a panel led by former president Ram Nath Kovind to examine the feasibility of implementing the concept of “one nation, one election” .This initiative follows a decision by the government to convene a special session of Parliament from September 18 to 22. The specifics of the agenda for this session have not been disclosed.

Relevance:

GS2- Government Policies And Intervention

Dimensions of the article:

  1. About ‘one-nation, one- election’
  2. Historical background of ‘one-nation, one- election’
  3. Merits of ‘one-nation, one- election’
  4. Demerits of ‘one-nation, one- election’
  5. Way Forward

About ‘one-nation, one- election’

  • The concept of “One Nation One Election” proposes the synchronization of elections for all states and the Lok Sabha within a five-year span. This entails restructuring the electoral cycle in India so that elections at both the state and central levels align. This would mean voters casting their ballots for members of both the Lok Sabha and state assemblies on a single day, concurrently or in phases if necessary.
  • Recent developments have seen Prime Minister Narendra Modi advocating for “One Nation One Election,” underscoring its significance during the 80th All India Presiding Officers Conference.

Historical background of ‘one-nation, one- election’

  • Historically, simultaneous elections have occurred in India in the years 1952, 1957, 1962, and 1967. However, this practice was discontinued following the dissolution of certain Legislative Assemblies in the late 1960s, leading to separate elections for the Centre and states.
  • The idea of returning to simultaneous elections was initially suggested in the Election Commission’s 1983 report and was mentioned in the Law Commission’s 1999 report as well. Since 2014, the BJP government has ardently supported the notion.
  • In 2018, the Law Commission released a draft report endorsing the implementation of simultaneous elections and suggesting necessary amendments to electoral laws and relevant Articles. The report addressed legal and constitutional challenges linked with conducting simultaneous elections and advocated for constitutional amendments ratified by at least 50% of the states.

Merits of ‘one-nation, one- election’

  • Cost Reduction: The concurrent conduct of elections minimizes expenses associated with multiple elections, including time, labor, and financial costs, which arise due to movement of security personnel and diversion of state resources.
  • Enhanced Voter Turnout: Simultaneous polls could potentially boost voter participation.
  • Better Use of Security Forces: Frequent elections limit the availability of security forces for other crucial tasks.
  • Focus on Governance: Continuous elections divert the focus of governance towards short-term electoral gains, sidelining long-term policies and programs.

Demerits of ‘one-nation, one- election’

  • Constitutional and Anti-Federal Concerns: Critics argue that the move might impact the federal nature of the Indian political system, as national and state issues differ.
  • Accountability: Fixed tenures might lead to a lack of accountability among government officials.
  • Difficulty in Synchronization: Maintaining synchronized elections is challenging, especially given the likelihood of government assemblies losing confidence.
  • Tampering with Democracy: Altering the election system could impact people’s democratic will.

Way forward:

  • Synchronize Local Body Elections: Consider holding elections for local bodies simultaneously as well.
  • Adjust State Legislative Assembly Terms: Align state legislative assembly terms with those of the Lok Sabha, possibly necessitating constitutional amendments.
  • Synchronize Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha Elections: Only synchronize elections for these two chambers.
  • Comprehensive Debate: Engage in extensive discussions across the political spectrum to address concerns of regional parties and facilitate smoother implementation.
  • Enhance Governance: If simultaneous elections reduce the time taken for polls, political parties can dedicate more time to addressing national issues and improving governance.

In conclusion, “One Nation One Election” is an idea gaining traction. However, its implementation requires thorough deliberation to address constitutional, federal, and logistical considerations.

The concept, if executed thoughtfully, could lead to increased efficiency and enhanced governance in the Indian electoral system.


February 2024
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