One Nation One Election: Need for 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 the Indian Prime Minister some time back. Equipped with many structural reforms in its 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 obstacles in the path of the metamorphosis, which is 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. The frequent election cycle is one such obstacle, which adversely impacts 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 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 Lok Sabha, or both, which props the question of whether the time for the One Nation One Election has come. What challenges the frequent election cycle brings in India can be summarized in the following points*:

Model Code Of Conduct (MCC)

According to the 79th report of the Parliamentary Standing Committee, "the imposition of MCC puts on hold the entire development program and activities of the Union and State Government in the poll-bound state. Frequent elections lead to the imposition of MCC over prolonged periods of time. This often leads to policy paralysis and government deficit". NITI Aayog says that every year, a 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 the year with no development activity at all. India could not afford such a huge loss at this point.

Election an expensive affair

The government of India incurred ₹ 3870 crores in conducting the 2014 Lok Sabha election. In addition to that, ₹ 300 crores and ₹ 240 crores were incurred in conducting the Bihar election in 2015 and the Gujarat election in 2017 respectively. Clearly, frequent election takes away the opportunities to optimize the election cost, leading to the wastage of public funds which can be avoided if One Nation One Election is implemented. 

Engagement of Security forces and poll personnel

To ensure free and fair elections, the Election Commission takes the help of Government officials and security personnel. In the 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 elections ensure the prolonged engagement of security personnel in the election process. This wastage of human resources can be checked if the scheme of One Nation One Election is introduced.

Caste and communal politics

We have seen, that 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 in 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 have become so strong that even a municipality election gets national coverage, when this is the case, the 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.

The 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. Despite many challenges, the One Nation One Election is a very noble idea whose time has come. India has to move away from the politics of winning elections to the politics of development, and the One Nation One Election is a positive step in that direction which will focus the intent of the political class from just winning the election to development.

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