The Big Picture: Is Holding Simultaneous Elections A Good Idea?
President Pranab Mukherjee recently batted strongly for simultaneous elections to Parliament and Assemblies; an issue on which the Government has focused its attention of late. With five state elections around the corner, President Mukherjee called for simultaneous elections to Lok Sabha and State Assemblies as a suggestion mooted by Prime Minister Mr. Narendra Modi. He asked the Election Commission to carry forward the idea of simultaneous polls in consultation with political parties.
Views and Counterviews:
The political parties especially the regional ones need to agree to this idea. The Government is always in a kind of election mode because of there are a series of state elections taking place between the Parliament elections. As far as the practical implementation of this idea is concerned, it requires the political parties to set aside their own interests for some time and consider this proposal. This will require some necessary Constitutional Amendments as the term of some state assemblies will be curtailed, in some cases there will be a need to advance the elections or postpone them. This needs a tremendous amount of political trust among parties. This will not only help in addressing resource constraint but will also help in better governance and administrative efficiency.
There is a need to do away with the 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
However, it should be considered that elections reflect the current mood of the nation. If there is a Government which is elected at the Centre five years ago or so, it does not reflect the immediate mandate while the State elections do so. Separate election is a much stronger method to know the public opinion from time to time in a democracy on major issues. When a State goes for election of its Legislative Assembly at the same time when general elections are happening, there are chances that the results roughly mirror general elections. Because of this, the Rajya Sabha which is a representation of States at the Centre acting as a check on Lok Sabha might have a dominance of the members of the same party at the Centre.
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 need to be made in the Constitution apart from building a consensus on this issue.