One Nation One Election: Need for simultaneous election

Simultaneous_election

"If India is to meet the challenge of change, mere incremental progress is not enough. A metamorphosis is needed", this was the vision put forth by Indian Prime Minister some time back. Equipped with many structural reform in their first term, this government is entering its second inning with the promise of fast economic growth and alleviating poverty in India. However, there are many obstacle in the path of the metamorphosis, which are hampering the pace of development and growth India requires. Before going full throttle on the path of social and economic development it is very necessary to get away with the impediments. Frequent election cycle is one such obstacle, which adversely impact governance, administration and policy making in the country.

Free and fair Election is the basis of Indian democracy, the largest in the world, but it has become so much dense and frequent that it is hampering the developmental processes. In the last 30 years, there has not been a single year without an election to either a state assembly or to Lok Sabha or both. What all challenges frequent election cycle brings in India can be summarized in the following points*:
  • Model Code Of Conduct (MCC)

According to 79th report of Parliamentary Standing Committee, "the imposition of MCC puts on hold the entire development programme and activities of the Union and State Government in the poll bound state. Frequent elections leads to imposition of MCC over prolonged periods of time. This often leads to policy paralysis and government deficit". NITI Aayog says that every year, period of 4 months of Model Code of Conduct will be applicable till 2021 because of Assembly elections that are going to happen, which translate into one-third of year with no development activity at all. India could not afford such huge loss at this point.
  • Election an expensive affair

Government of India incurred ₹ 3870 crore in conducting 2014 Lok Sabha election. In addition to that, ₹ 300 crore and ₹ 240 crore were incurred in conducting Bihar election in 2015 and Gujarat election in 2017 respectively. Clearly frequent election takes away the opportunities to optimize the election cost, leading to wastage of public funds which can be avoided if elections are held simultaneously. 
  •  Engagement of Security forces and poll personnel

For ensuring free and fair elections, Election Commission takes help of Government officials and security personnel. In 2014 Lok Sabha  election nearly 10 million government officials and 1349 companies of Central Armed Police Forces(CAPF), in addition to state police, were involved. Frequent election ensure prolonged engagement of security personnel in the election process. This wastage of human resource can be checked, if simultaneous election are introduced.
  • Caste and communal politics

We have seen, in India elections are not only fought on development issues, but religion and caste issues dominate the electoral narrative. In the words of former Chief Election Commissioner S. Y. Quarishi- "elections are polarising events which have accentuated casteism, communalism, corruption and crony capitalism. If the country is perpetually on election mode there is no respite from these evils. Holding simultaneous election would certainly help in this context".
  • Perpetual Campaign mode

The communication networks and media has become so strong that even a municipality election gets national coverage, when this is the case, nation is bound to be  in election mode most of the time, resulting in populist decision making. Electoral Compulsion Change the focus of policy making. Short sighted and politically safe measures are accorded higher priority over structural reforms.

Government and all other political parties must build up their consensus on this matter, if we want to go full on with our development agenda. 

*based on NITI Aayog report: https://niti.gov.in/writereaddata/files/document_publication/Note%20on%20Simultaneous%20Elections.pdf

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