Lok Sabha TV- Insight: One Nation One Election
Prime Minister Mr. Narendra Modi a few months ago had given the idea of holding simultaneous elections to the Lok Sabha, Vidhan Sabha and local bodies. He said that frequent elections affect the functioning of bureaucracy. President Pranab Mukherjee had also backed the same proposal of joint elections at Prime Minister’s “MyGov” platform and sought the opinion of the citizens, parliamentarians, members of Legislative Assembly and Council, constitutional and academic experts and all other interested people to give their views on the subject.
The Election Commission estimates that the Lok Sabha and state polls cost around Rs.4500 crore in 2004. The considered view is that the simultaneous elections will not only keep alive the enthusiasm of the voters but will also lighten the financial and administrative strain on the Government and improve governance. The Election Commission said that it is not impossible to implement the idea of simultaneous election if there is a political consensus and will across the board.
As far as the idea is concerned, it looks very forward looking, economic and rational. But empirically, this will hit the fundamentals of federal democracy. There are four fundamentals on which democracy thrives which are majority rule, recognition of minority rights, constitutional government and the most important governance by discussion. This is precisely the reason why there is an institution of Parliament and processes like zero hour, question hour, adjournment motion etc. The collective consciousness of Indian society even till today is not logical that it can vote only on the basis of development. Had development been the sole factor in determining which party people should vote for, then the scenario would have been different.
There is no denying on the fact that Indian electorate functions on waves. Political science theory suggests that in a semi-literate society, rational democracy takes a back seat, emotive issues suddenly crop up covering the rational considerations. Naturally, a Government at the Centre will always like that there should be simultaneous elections. For example: If in a situation, when all states go for elections, the result would lead to a particular party sweeping the entire poll based on the mood of the people.
The positive side is there as well. In case, the Central Government launches a plan, a hostile government at the state level might not be eager to implement it. This is what happened in case of MNREGA when it was implemented in the states where there were non- Congress governments. But if there are simultaneous elections, chances are that one party would win in majority of states and there would be ease in implementation of plans and projects.
In 1967, 10 states had different Governments other than Congress for the first time. There were coalition governments and the same got replicated at the Centre also i.e. the “Aaya Ram Gaya Ram” culture in 1990s. We have a federal structure of Government because the Indian society is varied in terms of region, language etc. The issue of moral turpitude cannot be countered by legislation. Anti- Defection Law was brought into existence in 1985 for the first time. Nowhere across the thriving democracies of the world, this law exists. In 2003 again, through 91st Amendment, this law was made more stringent. But still, the problem of defection is there. Now, if there are simultaneous elections, defection might increase based on the presumption which party might win the election.
There is a need to do away with the concept of toppling a government. Instead of no confidence, there should be a confidence motion in which the party remains the same, only the person concerned is removed and a new face comes in. In this way, going for simultaneous elections might serve a better purpose. Regional parties and some other parties might not support this concept because they know that in next 5 years public perception might change and people may prefer one party over the other.
The idea is not bad overall but there are serious challenges overall in the implementation of one nation one election. There are some basic changes which needs to be made in the Constitution apart from building a consensus on this issue.