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DAILY NEWS ANALYSIS

  • 24 July, 2022

  • 10 Min Read

LAW PANEL TO EXAMINE SIMULTANEOUS ELECTION

LAW PANEL TO EXAMINE SIMULTANEOUS ELECTION

The issue of holding the simultaneous election of Lok Sabha and the state assembly election had been referred to the Law Commission of India for a practicable road map and framework.

What is a simultaneous election?

The “One Nation, One Election” idea forms a system where elections to all state assemblies and the Lok Sabha will have to be held simultaneously.

It will involve the restructuring of the Indian election cycle in a manner that elections to the states and the center should be synchronized.

Currently, they are held separately that is whenever the incumbent government’s five-year term ends or whenever it is dissolved due to various reasons. This applies to both the state legislatures and the Lok Sabha.

Advantages of simultaneous election

Improvement in governance efficiency

  • Frequent election directly affects stability and without it, a satisfactory law and order situation and economic development, the situation is not possible. The Law Commission had suggested that simultaneous Lok Sabha and state assembly elections can be helpful to improve governance and stability. In a report on electoral reform in India in 1999.
  • Frequent election affects policymaking and governance as the government is captured in short-term thinking. As well as It also puts pressure on the exchequer, and pressure on political parties, especially smaller ones, as elections are becoming increasingly expensive.

Cost Reduction in Elections

  • Huge amount of money is spent in conducting elections in India, both by political parties and the candidates as well as the Election Commission of India.
  • The simultaneous elections would reduce the amount of money spent on the election. And Election commission’s money which comes from the public exchequer would also be significantly reduced because it will have to do fewer arrangements for less time to conduct the elections.

Other Advantages

  • It will reduce the burden on the administrative setup and security forces.
  • It will also ensure that the administrative machinery is engaged in development activities rather than electioneering.

The disadvantage of simultaneous elections

It would be challenging to successfully implement the idea of simultaneous elections. These challenges are discussed below:

Difficult Task to accomplish:

  • As the logistics involved in holding simultaneous elections would perhaps be difficult to manage. More than 700000 polling stations are spread across the country which has varying geographic and climatic zones.
  • The EC has to take into account the weather, the agricultural cycle, exam schedules, religious festivals, and public holidays for conducting the election which is difficult to find out.
  • There is also the question of what happens to simultaneous polls if a ruling party or coalition loses the confidence of an assembly before the five-year term of its government has ended.

The Risk of Centralization of Power in one Party

  • Many critics of simultaneous elections say that conducting national and state elections together could help one political party create a ‘wave’ by an aggressive, well-organized, campaign to persuade the electorate to vote for the same party, and capture power in the states and the Centre.

Diversity in Election Results:

  • Holding simultaneous elections is likely to affect the judgment of voters as the national and state issues are different and mainly state elections depend upon regional issues.

Other Disadvantages

  • It will also reduce the accountability of the government toward the people as the elections will be held once in five years.
  • It is difficult to convince and bring together all the members of political parties on the idea.
  • For holding simultaneous elections, the requirements for Electronic Voting Machines and the Voter Verified Paper Audit Trails will double as the ECI has to provide two sets that is one for election to the Legislative Assembly and the second for that to the Lok Sabha.
  • It may curtail or extend the tenure of State legislatures to bring their elections in line with the Lok Sabha election date
  • There is a serious question of what happens if the government at the Centre falls.

What is the history behind it?

  • Simultaneous elections were the norm until 1967.
  • But the following dissolution of some Legislative Assemblies in the state in 1968 and 1969 and that of the Lok Sabha in December 1970, elections to State Assemblies and Parliament have been started separately.
  • The idea of reverting to simultaneous polls was mooted in the annual report of the Election Commission in the year 1983 and also in the report of the Law Commission in the year 1999.
  • The recent push came ahead of the 2014 Lok Sabha elections in the Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) manifesto.
  • NITI Aayog prepared a working paper on the subject in January 2017.
  • In the Law Commission’s working paper which was brought out in April 2018, it said that at least “five Constitutional recommendations” would be required to get this off the ground.

Way forward

  • The law commission’s recommendations suggest that there is a feasibility to restore one nation one election concept as it existed during the first two decades of India’s independence.
  • However, since the issue is concerned with the federal structure of the Constitution, it needs to be discussed and debated properly across the political spectrum to assuage the concerns of regional parties. This will make it easier to implement the idea in the country.
  • There needs to build a consensus, on whether the country needs one nation, one poll, or not. All political parties should at least cooperate in debating this issue, once the debate starts, public opinion can also be taken into consideration. India being a mature democracy, must follow the outcome of the debate.

Source: The Hindu


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