It was after 1967 that One Nation One Election was ended. After ages our Prime Minister Narendra Modi thought of restoring our old practice of conducting elections for the central and state on the same day. After 1967 there were discussions on this topic but all were confused. Even in the present, every one- State and the Central are slightly hesitant about implementing it. While celebrating the 73rd Independence Day, Prime Minister shared his wish on practicing One Nation One Election while speaking to us on the Ramparts of the Red Fort.
For more than a decade we are aware of the debate on ‘simultaneous election’ or the ‘one nation one election’. Its now thanks to our Prime Minister, Narendra Damodardas Modi that there has been a widespread discussion on this topic . On our 73rd Independence Day, standing on the ramparts of the Red Fort, he expressed his idea for this simultaneous election. He said how this idea has been growing on him since several years, and how there will be a committee formed to discuss various points on this topic.
On the 30th of August 2018, the Law Commission submitted a draft report suggesting some changes in the constitution and the electoral law for the implementation of simultaneous polls to the government.
What are Simultaneous Polls?
In the present, elections for the state and central assemblies are held separately- that is whenever the governments Five-year tenure is over or whenever the government is dissolved for various reasons possible, elections are held. This plan applies to both, the state and the Lok Sabha. You may call it simultaneous elections, Simultaneous polls or one nation one election, it all suggests that the state and the Lok Sabha hold elections simultaneously. This will involve restructuring the Indian election cycle in such a manner that the state and the Lok Sabha hold their elections on the same day. Which means, when a man goes to cast a vote for the State assembly will also at the same time cast a vote for the Lok Sabha.
The discussions for one nation one election is not new, it was a rule till the 1967. When we had to dissolve our State Assemblies in 1968 and 1969 and when the Lok Sabha too followed the process of dissolution in December 1970, since then the elections for the state and central are held separately.
In the year 1983, the Law commission submitted an annual report on the idea of reverting to the simultaneous polls. The commission again referred to this report in the year 1999. In the year 2003, the then Prime Minister Mr. Atal Bihari Vajpayee took up this matter to Sonia Gandhi, president of congress. She seemed very receptive in the beginning but the idea could ultimately not be persuaded.
In 2010 again, this topic was brought up by L K Advani when he proposed this idea to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and the finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee and they too seemed very receptive about this.
Taking a step further, in the year 2016, when Prime Minister Modi floated the Idea once again, there was a working paper prepared in the year 2017 by Niti Ayog on ‘Analysis of Simultaneous Elections: The What, Why, and How’ and in a draft report in 2018, the Law Commission said “ at least five Constitutional recommendations” would be required to get this off the ground”. They also suggested appropriate amendments in the Constitution, Procedure of Lok Sabha, Representation of Peoples Act 1951.
The Law commission went on to recommend that all the elections that are due in the calendar should be held together. Secondly, that the ‘no-confidence motion’ shall be replaced with ‘constructive vote of no-confidence motion’. Thirdly, that a Government shall be replaced only if there is confidence in the alternative Government.
The decision on the implementation of simultaneous polls are yet to be taken, as the parties have been in debate on the pros and cons of implementing one nation one election.
Functioning of Simultaneous Polls
Along with conducting the 17th Lok Sabha elections, there were two proposals made but however both dint materialise.
The first proposal that was made, suggested that there should be a shift in the simultaneous polls but in a phased manner. Where general elections, the 12 State Assemblies (as they were anyways going to face election in 2018 and 2019) and the Union Territory shall have a synchronised election while the other states other than the 12 State Assemblies are in the middle of their five-year tenure are to be kept excluded.
These 12 states were Andhra Pradesh, Arunachal Pradesh, Odisha, Sikkim, Telangana, Haryana, Jharkhand, Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Mizoram and Rajasthan. NCT of Delhi (Union Territory with Legislature) also faces polls in 2019. For such a perfect synchronisation to set, it is necessary to have a political consensus, change of the tenure in some states( extension of the term upto six months) and amendments in the constitution. By the end of 2021 all the elections regarding State Legislative Assemblies and the Union Territory (Puducherry) will be synchronised. Thereafter, elections to the Lok Sabha, all the State Legislative Assemblies and Union Territories (with legislatures) will be held simultaneously from 2024.
The second proposal that as made, suggested the synchronisation should take place in two batches. First, elections to the 12 State Legislative Assemblies and one Union Territory would be synchronised with elections to the Lok Sabha in 2019. Next, elections to the remaining State Legislative Assemblies will be synchronised with that of one Union Territory by the end of 2021. This makes elections across the country synchronised in such a manner that they will be held twice every five years.
Arguments for One Nation One Election
- Consumption of Money: Simultaneous polls will no doubt save a lot of money as we have 4120 MLA in 31 States and Union Territories. The maximum expenditure limit for a bigger assembly would be about 28 lacs. Currently, 5 states go for polls every year but if we implement one nation one election, all states would go simultaneously which will cost the government about 12 billion.
- Speedy developmental work: When the election model code of conduct is in force all new projects are put on hold. If he conduct simultaneous polls, it will ensure new policies and programmes continue whether in State or Central.
- Check on Black Money: it is an open secret that with the help of Black money elections are fought, therefore, if we have elections at the same time it may be possible that parallel economy will grow in the country.
- Efficiency: The government woo the general public with religious and caste based programmes. The State and the Central prepare lucrative every year. If one nation on election is implemented the need not do all this and can also take tough decisions for the betterment of the economy.
Arguments against one nation one election
- Local issues will fade out: It is noted that the State and the Central governments target different issues. The State targets the regional issues while the National targets national issues. If the elections are conducted together it will become impossible for the State to target regional issues.
- Hard time to Regional Parties: It is not possible for the regional parties to compete with the national parties with regard to election strategy and election expenditure. The Assembly elections, usually focus on the local issues and local voters. If simultaneous elections are held, it will not be accepted by the Regional Parties.
- Delay in Election Results: Almost all the regional parties in the present are demanding to conduct elections on Ballet Papers. If one time one election is implemented a lot of time will be consumed for announcing the results of the elections.
- Constitutional Problems: If simultaneous polls are implemented it will not be sure whether all the State and Central governments will be formed by the full majority. It can also be possible that some party may make alliance with the government which may lead to the fall of the government before its tenure of five-years.
- Requirement of Huge Machinery & Resources: It will be a daunting task to conduct simultaneous polls in Union Territories, States and the Lok Sabha.
Constitutional Amendments needed for One Nation One Election
- Article 83 which deals with the duration of Houses of Parliament.
- Article 85 deals dissolution of Lok Sabha by the President.
- Article 172 related to duration of state legislatures.
- Article 174 related to dissolution of state assemblies.
- Article 356 President’s Rule in the state.
The Representation of People Act, 1951 Act would have to be amended to build in provisions for stability of tenure for both parliament and assemblies.
Countries that conduct One Nation One Election
- South Africa
The population from 1967 and now, has drastically increased which we all are aware of. Therefore, having elections among about 130 crore individual at a single go where they elect their State representative and central Representative is highly improbable. Secondly, the issues at State level and National Level are diverse and having joint election can confuse the voter on these aspects. Local issues are bound to be given priority and these would affect their discretion with regard to electing a representative at National level. State elections are based on Local issues whereas elections to the Lok Sabha involve National issues pertaining to growth, development, internal security, defence and foreign affairs. In addition due to exponential growth in population and resultant security issues it is well naïve impossible to conduct elections for all segments at the same time. The situation in the span of 50 years has changed dynamically. India is also considered as one of the biggest democracy and follows the Federal system, which could be hindered on the implementation of One Nation One Election.