One Nation One Election: Financial Landscape of Elections in India

Simultaneous elections, often referred to as "One Nation, One Election," have been a topic of significant debate and discussion in India. The concept revolves around holding elections for all levels of government - from the local panchayats to the national parliament - on a single date. Advocates of the One Nation One Election argue that this approach can bring about substantial cost savings due to reduced election-related expenses. In a country like India, where elections are frequent and spread out over various levels, understanding the potential financial benefits of simultaneous elections becomes crucial.

Current Election Scenario

India is known for its vibrant democracy and complex electoral system. Elections are held at multiple levels of government, including the national, state, and local levels. This leads to a constant cycle of elections, resulting in significant expenditures on various aspects, security arrangements, transportation, campaign expenses, and administrative costs, this also includes election campaign by political parties. With elections happening at different times, these costs are incurred frequently, putting a strain on the economy.

The story between 2014 and 2019 

Between the general elections of 2014 and 2019, a total of 19 state assembly elections were conducted, averaging nearly five state elections per year. One notable example is the Bihar 2015 election, which incurred an expenditure of approximately 300 crore rupees, underscoring the substantial financial commitment involved in organizing these electoral processes. When we compute an average cost of 250 crore rupees per state election, the cumulative expenditure surpasses 4,750 crore rupees. Intriguingly, this figure exceeds the 3,426 crore rupees expended during the 2014 general election. So this cost can be reduced if all the elections can be held at the same time.

Costly affairs of political parties

Political parties in India are huge money-spending juggernaut. Primarily driven by election ccampaigns, the expenditure includes advertising, rallies, travel, candidate support, and administrative costs. According to a report published by by Delhi based think tank Centre for Media Studies, political parties and candidates spent nearly Rs 60,000 crores (around $ 8 billion) in 2019 general election, which is twice the amount incurred in 2014 general election. The most recent state assembly election in Karnataka saw close to Rs 300 crores spent by major political parties. Political parties spent a large amounts of money in election campaigns, most of which comes from the two major national parties Bhartiya Janta Party and Indian National Congress. 

Components of Election Expenses

  • Security Arrangements: Providing adequate security during elections is essential to ensure a smooth and violence-free process. Security forces are deployed to maintain law and order, resulting in substantial expenses.
  • Logistics and Transportation: Organizing elections requires the setup of polling stations, transportation of election personnel, electronic voting machines (EVMs), and other materials. Coordinating these logistics involves considerable financial resources.
  • Campaign Expenses: Political parties and candidates spend significant amounts on campaign activities, including rallies, advertisements, and promotional materials. These expenses can quickly add up during multiple elections.
  • Administrative Costs: Conducting elections involves administrative tasks such as voter registration, ballot printing, training of election staff, and result tabulation. These activities require funding and manpower.

The potential cost savings in implementing One Nation One electionin in India are indeed significant. By streamlining election-related expenses, the country could use its resources more efficiently for development and governance. However, implementing such a major reform requires careful consideration of legal, logistical, and political aspects. While cost savings are an essential factor, they must be weighed against other democratic principles to ensure that the essence of Indian democracy remains intact. As the debate continues, it is essential to strike a balance between reducing costs and upholding the democratic values that define the nation.


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