One Nation One Election: Centre forms Panel under Ex Prez

7 Sep 2023  Read 777 Views

India conducts elections at various levels of government, including national, state, and local elections. So with 28 states, can you estimate the cost of holding these state elections separately? This may vary from around Rs 4,150 crore every five years for all states combined to about Rs 5,500 crore at an aggregate level. You heard it right? This is indeed a lot of money & it places a significant load on the economy of our country. 

Therefore, in order to organize all elections on the same day during a single cycle, “One Nation, One Election” must be kept in the priority list of the government. 

Let’s discuss in this article the meaning of one nation, one election, background and recent development on the same.

What is One Nation, One Election?

One Nation, One Election advocates for the synchronization of all elections held in India, including Lok Sabha, Vidhan Sabha & local body elections. The idea is to align these elections in an order that they occur simultaneously, at defined intervals, across India. 

Recent Development on ONOE

On September 1st 2023, the Central government has recently set up a panel headed by former President Ram Nath Kovind to explore the feasibility of the ‘one nation, one election’ (ONOE) plan. 

Is One Nation One Election a new concept?

The intent to bring One nation, One election is to conduct the elections at all levels at one point of time to reduce the frequency of polls in our country.

  • In India, this was in practice till 1967, but then it was disrupted for several reasons like defections, dismissals, and dissolutions of government. 

  • India had simultaneous polls (One nation, One election) together in 1951-52, 1957, 1962 and 1967. 

  • However, the cycle was broken in Kerala, in 1959, when the Jawaharlal Nehru govt. used Article 356 of the Constitution to dismiss the then-Kerala government of the Communist E M S Namboodiripad.

Subsequently, due to defections and counter-defections between parties, several Legislative Assemblies dissolved after 1960, which resulted in separate polls for Lok Sabha and State Assemblies.

Recent Example: In present times, the assembly polls in the States of Arunachal Pradesh, Sikkim, Andhra Pradesh and Odisha are held together with the Lok Sabha elections.

History of One Nation, One Election

  • The idea of conducting simultaneous elections was proposed in 1999 by the Law Commission headed by BP Jeevan Reddy.

  • This could be one of the most critical reforms in the ruling party’s agenda. The former President of India, Ram Nath Kovind, while addressing the Parliament in January 2018, mentioned this as one of the reforms proposed by the government. 

  • Even PM Modi has spoken about the desirability of having one election throughout the nation. 

What are the Benefits of One Nation, One Election?

  • Focused Governance: It enables the government to concentrate on governance once the elections are over. Today, there is some election or the other in some part of the country in every quarter and everyone gets deeply involved with this only and not on the administration.

  • Continuity in Policy Decisions: The Model Code of Conduct (MCC) is considered just after the elections are announced by the Election Commission (EC). No new policy decisions are taken or implementation of ongoing projects gets disrupted during elections due to this MCC. 

  • Less burden on economy: This will be due to reduced cost of elections & reduced freebies. It can be said that one of the main reasons for political corruption is frequent elections which can be curbed with this step.

Example: The same electoral rolls can be used for all the elections which will save a tremendous amount of time and money spent in updating electoral rolls.

  • Limited Allocation of Security Forces: Huge number of police personnel and paramilitary forces are usually involved to ensure that elections are conducted peacefully, this motivates increased costs and massive re-allocation. This issue can be genuinely curbed.

  • End of Horse Trading: Holding elections at certain time periods could potentially reduce horse-trading by elected representatives, which is problematic even with anti-defection law in place. Holding elections at fixed intervals can make it harder for them to switch parties or form alliances for personal gains.

What are the criticisms of One Nation, One Election?

  • One Nation, One Election may affect the judgment of voters as they are more likely to emphasize on national issues rather than local issues.

  • Due to strong Central politics, regional parties may not be able to raise regional and local issues appropriately.

  • Government’s accountability to the people will get questionable as repeated elections keep the government and legislatures in check.

  • In order to bring this concept, state elections will have to be postponed. This can only be done through the President’s rule which will be problematic for democracy and federalism.

  • Although the election commission has said that holding simultaneous elections is feasible it will have a considerable feat & logistical challenge.

Conclusion

This concept of simultaneous elections, however, had been the norm after Independence, but the feasibility of conducting the same was considered as recently as 2015. With the Opposition bloc I.N.D.I.A has been ou in their protest against the proposal, with prominent leaders referring it as an attack on India’s federal structure.

About the Author: Kakoli Nath | 230 Post(s)

Kakoli Nath is a legal Content Manager at Finology Legal who pursued BBA.LL.B (5 years integrated course). She is a patent analyst & had also done advanced certification in Forensics Psychology and Criminal Profiling from IFS, Pune.

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