(SYLLABUS RELEVANCE: GS 2: Polity and Governance)
Why is it in the news?
- Recently, the Modi government has established a committee to examine the ‘One Nation, One Election’ concept and prepare a report for discussion in Parliament.
- The aim is to revive the previous practice of simultaneous elections for the Lok Sabha (national) and State Assemblies (regional), which was in place until the late 1960s.
- Former President Ram Nath Kovind will lead the committee on ‘One Nation, One Election.’
- The government formed this committee to address the issue, and the report’s discussion will take place in Parliament.
- The BJP had pledged in its 2014 election manifesto to consult with other political parties to establish a method for holding Assembly and Lok Sabha elections concurrently.
- The rationale behind this move, as mentioned in the BJP’s manifesto, includes reducing election expenses for political parties and the government, as well as ensuring continued stability for State governments.
Key Elements of ‘One Nation, One Election’ System
- Current System: Elections for the Lok Sabha and State Assemblies are held at different times, leading to continuous election cycles.
- One Nation, One Election (ONOE) Proposal: Simultaneous elections at the national and state levels every five years, aligning the tenures of the Lok Sabha and State Assemblies.
- Political Consensus: Achieving political consensus is crucial for implementing ONOE.
- Constitutional Amendments: Key Articles such as Article 172, Article 83, Article 85, and Article 356 need modification to enable synchronized elections.
- Electoral Laws: Amendments in the People’s Representation Act, 1951, and the Anti-Defection Law are necessary for organized conduct and stability.
|Historical Background of Simultaneous Election in India|
|1952 – 1967||Simultaneous elections to states and Lok Sabha held.|
|1968-69||Discontinuation of simultaneous elections.|
|1983||Election Commission suggests reverting to simultaneous elections|
|1999||Law Commission’s Report mentions simultaneous elections.|
|2014||BJP government advocates for simultaneous elections.|
|2018||Law Commission submits a draft report supporting simultaneous elections and recommending changes to electoral laws and relevant constitutional articles.|
|Constitutional Amendments||The Law Commission proposes that simultaneous elections require appropriate amendments to the Constitution.|
|States Ratification||The Law Commission suggests that at least 50% of states must ratify the constitutional amendments for simultaneous elections to be implemented.|
Arguments in favour of ‘One Nation, One Election’
- Cost Reduction: Eliminating multiple elections at different times saves time, labour, and financial resources.
- Boosting Voter Turnout: Simultaneous polls may increase voter participation.
- Efficient Use of Security Forces: Reduces the deployment of security forces during elections.
- Impact on Social Fabric: Fewer elections may reduce polarization and promote development-focused governance.
- Focus on Governance: Allows the government to focus on long-term policies rather than immediate electoral gains.
- Level Playing Field: Reduces election expenses, promoting fairness in elections.
Arguments against ‘One Nation, One Election’
- Constitutional Concerns: Critics argue that simultaneous elections may affect the federal nature of India’s political system.
- National vs. State Issues: National elections often prioritize national issues, potentially overshadowing local concerns in state elections.
- Accountability: Fixed tenures without intermediate elections may lead to a lack of accountability.
- Synchronization Challenges: Maintaining synchronization is challenging, especially when state governments lose confidence.
- Tampering with Democracy: Critics say ONOE could interfere with the democratic will expressed through regular elections.
- Implementing ‘One Nation, One Election’ requires careful consideration and consensus-building among political parties.
- The Law Commission’s report and recommendations in 2018 supported ONOE, emphasizing the need for constitutional amendments ratified by states.