Electionsare of utmost importance in any Democratic country. As we all know, democracyis defined as a government of the people, for the people and by the people.Such governments, as in the ancient city states of Greece, can be formed withthe people directly participating in them.
But in countries like India, China,the U.S.A.
, in the U.S.S.R. or in any modern state with several million people,cannot have direct democracy.Meaningof ‘Democracy’, ‘Election’, and ‘Voting’: The word democracy has its origin intwo Greek words ‘demos’ and ‘krasis’. Demos means ‘the people, and Krasis means’power to rule’. So, democracy refers to the power of the common people of theland.
The wordElection comes from the Latin word ‘Eligere’. ‘Eligere’ means “to choose,select or pick”. To elect, or vote, means to select or to make a choice.The wordvoting is derived from Latin word ‘Votum’ meaning ‘to wish for’. Voting refersto the process of choosing or electing a candidate to run the government’saffairs, usually through a ballot.InIndia, which is the largest democracy in the world in terms of vastness andpopulation, governments both at the centre and in the constituent states areelected for five-year terms. The electorate of so many crores of people in thissub-continent participate in the election, held on the basis of universal adultfranchise, and send their representatives to both the Parliament and the statelegislatures, expecting that these representatives will safeguard theirinterests and work to attain the goal of progress, prosperity, unity andintegrity of India as also to ensure rights and freedom of the people. In thisindirect democracy the elections play the most important role in shaping thedestiny of the people, and the people, while exercising their franchise,constitute the real source of power in the elections as they make their choiceand elect only those in whom they have faith.
In Indiaalmost every month one or the other state is setting tones for an election. Thecost which is incurred during campaign process is very high. Current Indianelection system is hampering in the growth of India as well as in policy makingalso. Moreover, the procedure is also very time consuming and chaotic.AfterOne Nation, One Tax1,PM Modi is all set to build consensus on an ambitious reform called: OneNation, One Election (Lok Sabha & Vidhan Sabha elections held at once).Former President Pranab Mukherjee also showed support to this initiative.
Recently, Election Commission has said it is ready to conduct the elections atonce after September, 2018. “OneNation, One Election”. This sentence shows the strength of election.
Inreality, the election is the way to make changes in any country because theelected people through elections are expected to make policies, laws for thedevelopment of the country. In India Every year one or the other state is readyfor an election. The cost which incurred during campaign process are very high.Moreover, the procedure is also very time consuming. PM Modi has always want tounite the state and general elections so that it reduce the cost as well as thechaos attached with it.PresidentPranab Mukherjee also showed support to the One India One Election initiativeof PM Modi .Current Indian election system is hampering in the growth of Indiaas well as in policy making also.
In India, there is the concept of frequentelection which should be changed now. Frequent election means the elections ofassemblies and Lok Sabha are conducted separately. It is having pros and cons ofit. In SouthAfrica, elections to national and provincial legislatures are heldsimultaneously for five years and after two years municipal elections are held.
Similarly in Sweden, simultaneous elections to national legislature (Riksdag),provincial legislature/county council (landsting) and local bodies/municipalAssemblies (Kommunfullmaktige) are held on a fixed date i.e. second Sunday inSeptember for four years. Thisconcept or idea is not new in India.
After the independence and enforcement ofconstitution, the first election which was conducted in the year of 1952 wasconducted simultaneously. It was in practical from 1952 to 1970 i.e.
1952,1957, 1962 and 1967 But in 1968 and 1969, the cycle got disrupted due to thepremature dissolution of some Legislative Assemblies. Similarly in the year1970, the Lok Sabha itself got dissolved prematurely. This concept was endedwhen fourth Lok Sabha was dissolved early. This recommendation is again raisedby our Prime Minister Mr Narendra Modi and the idea is also supported by thePresident Mr Pranab Mukherjee. “The Election Commission has always been ofthe view that simultaneous elections will give enough time for incumbentgovernment to formulate policies and implement programmes continuously for alonger time without interruptions caused by imposition of model code of conduct,”election commissioner Om Prakash Rawat at Press Trust of India ( PTI ) in NewDelhi.
He saidconducting the polls together would be possible only when necessary changes inthe Constitution and Representation of the People Act are carried out. Existinglegal and constitutional provisions mandates that elections are to be heldwithin six months ahead of the end of the term of a state assembly or the LokSabha.Rawatsaid after the constitutional and legal framework are in place, it would befeasible to seek all the logistical support and conduct simultaneous elections.
“Commissionmay conduct such elections after six months (after constitutional and legalchanges are made),” the election commissioner said.He saidbringing all political parties on board is an imperative for holding thesimultaneous polls.A parliamentary committee under thechairmanship of Congress MP EM Sudarsana Natchiappan in December 2015recommended simultaneous elections to the Lok Sabha and the state assemblies.The report, titled, the Feasibility ofHolding Simultaneous Elections to House of People (Lok Sabha) and StateLegislative Assemblies, was submitted to Parliament by the Standing Committeeon Personnel, Public Grievances, Law and Justice. The report emphasised theneed for holding simultaneous elections listing out its reasons:Theholding of simultaneous elections to Lok Sabha and state assemblies wouldreduce the massive expenditure that is currently incurred for the conduct of separateelections.
It would end the policy paralysis that results from the impositionof the Model Code of Conduct during election time Simultaneous elections willreduce the impact on delivery of essential services Simultaneous elections willlessen the burden on crucial manpower that is deployed during election time.Thestanding committee said, in its report, that seven of the 16 Lok Sabhas thathave been constituted so far were dissolved pre-maturely due to coalitiongovernments. It further observed that the legislatures have been completingtheir full term in recent years.
The standing committee said that due toanti-defection law and restrictions on President’s power to proclaim emergencyunder Article 356 have prevented party hopping after elections and had directbearing on the terms of legislature. The standing committee, in its report,backed the recommendations of the Law Commission report of 1999. The LawCommission had then suggested that elections of legislative assemblies whoseterm ends six months after the Lok Sabha polls can be clubbed together (whenall elections are held concurrently for the first time).However,the results of such elections can be declared at the end of the assembly’stenure.Thestanding committee also said that there is necessary legal framework to holdsimultaneous elections. The Representation of People Act, 1951, it said, allowsthe Election Commission of India to notify general elections six months priorto the end of the terms of Lok Sabha and state assemblies. The standingcommittee, though, observed some practical difficulties in holding simultaneouselections to the Lok Sabha and state assemblies. It said that the elections tothe assemblies of Andhra Pradesh, Arunachal Pradesh, Odisha and Sikkim wereheld in March-May 2014 period.
These assemblies can be re-elected in 2019simultaneously with the Lok Sabha elections. The elections to the assemblies ofHaryana and Maharashtra will be due within six months of the Lok Sabhaelections in 2019. These assemblies can also be re-elected with the Lok Sabhaelections in 2019.
But holding elections for rest of the assemblies will be anaberration. It would require a Constitution Amendment before 2019 generalelections.On theother hand, the NITI Aayog2in a ‘Note on Simultaneous Elections’ said that given the terms of existingState Assemblies, it would be nearly impossible to implement simultaneouselections to the Lok Sabha and all State Assemblies at one go from April – May2019 or before June 2019.”Ifthis is to be done, then estimates show that tenures of many State Assemblieswould need to be curtailed by more than two years (examples like Assam, Kerala,Tamil Nadu etc.) and tenures of many other State Assemblies would need to beextended by more than two years (examples like Goa, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhandetc.),” the NITI Aayog note reads.To deal with the practical and politicaldifficulties both the standing committee and the NITI Aayog agreed with the ideathat the proposal to hold simultaneous elections should be implemented in twophases.The NITIAayog note says, “It is suggested that simultaneous elections beconsidered in two-phases.
Phase-Iis suggested to be in sync with that of the Lok Sabha elections i.e. April –May 2019.Phase IIis suggested approximately mid-way in the term of the Lok Sabha i.e. 30 monthsafter Phase-I, it around October – November 2021.
“A study done by IDFC3 institute,a think-tank, analysed electoral data since 1999. They chose all states thathave had coinciding elections with each of these Parliament elections andcompared assembly segment wise winners for Parliament and assembly. In 16 casesof simultaneous elections from 1999 to 2014, cumulatively 302 million votersexpressed their choices across 2601 assembly constituencies in 6 states. In 77%of these constituencies, the winner came from the same political party. “Contrary to popular notion that the averagevoter is acutely discerning of the difference between voting for her staterepresentative and national, there is very little actual evidence of it,” Theadvantages of conducting simultaneous election in India are listed below whichdefinitely help the conducting the election more fixable, lucid andtransparency.1.
Savingcost:Theelection procedure is not only tiresome and hectic but also expensive. Partiesindividually spend a lot on election campaigning, the amount that could be putto better use if they have to do that only at once for the general election aswell as the state election. Government also spares no expense when it comes towooing the votes of the supporters during the times of elections. 2. Savingtime: Half ofthe year is spent by politicians concentrating on strategies for the upcomingelection in one or the other state and debating the actions of the competingparty. The name calling and blame game take a lot of time that could be usedfor something productive. On the part of common people too, it would be timesaving to cast both the votes together.
3.Shunning the vote bank: Whenelections are around the corners, most political parties throw gimmicks to gainvote bank or to destroy the reputation of the other party. They use issues toframe policies that would gain the upper hand at the elections.
People areaware of this and more importantly they are tired of this. Building roads anddeveloping infrastructure all seem to happen only when elections are around thecorners. 4.Encouraging policymaking: The fearof losing voters prevent politicians from encouraging the passage of policiesthat require immediate attention. They are never united in their decisionsbecause they are always worried of how best of appease the people they areexpecting highest votes from. A combined election procedure would give themample time to concentrate on policymaking without having to worry about thevotes being gained or lost. 5.
Lowering vices: Casteism,communalism, corruption and partiality prevails because of so many electionsthat happen almost every year. This would only stop if elections are heldjointly and odds of gaining or losing prevail at once and for all. The rest oftheir term of career, they wouldn’t try inciting the evil that destroy thepeace of the nation. The disadvantagesof conducting simultaneous election in India are listed below which createhazard in conducting simultaneous election in India.1.
Notpossible: Holding the Lok Sabha elections along withelections to assembly and panchayats is not that easy a process. It will havevarious complications as the villages and the cities together gear for voting.There may also be shortage of administrative staff and security to look afterthe procedure. Less care at the voting centres may further incite trouble andcorrupt processes being carried out unchecked. Booth capturing is not somethingpeople would want in exchange for saving on time.
2. Costcan still be cut down: Byputting a strict cap on the election costs for all parties, the overall dilemmaassociated with the expense of holding elections separately can be done awaywith. They are usually seen spending before the model code of conduct comesinto play. If that can be restricted, there is no way the costs would exceednormal. 3.Keeping a good check: Politiciansare kept on their toes when they are regularly worried about the routineelections that they need to be presentable for. They know they are accountablefor the actions of their party member and anything going wrong could meansnatching of their powers. This fear is good to keep them in check.
4. Makesthem keep up the good work: Not many good works go into their books butthe ones they do are usually during elections. Cutting down on elections wouldmean making them lazy for the rest of the term and suddenly becoming overactiveduring the election year. 5.National and State issues: Holding both the elections together will alsomean mixing up the national issues with those of the state.
The national issueswould overpower the state which in turn would get less priority from thepoliticians. 6.Constitutional Amendments:To passthese amendments, they require special majorities in Lok Sabha & RajyaSabha. This would be a challenging task for the Govt. to build consensus amongvarious political outfits, which have certain biases. To avoidfrequent elections it is necessary to have stable elected bodies.
It ispertinent to note that a no-confidence motion is not mentioned in theConstitution or any law, for that matter. It finds place in Rule 198 of theRules and Conduct of Business of the Lok-Sabha, which states that 50 or moremembers can move a no-confidence motion. If it succeeds, the government has toresign and if no other party or parties can form the government, premature elections follow. The Law Commission of India in itsreport of 1999 has dealt with the problem of premature and frequent elections.It had recommended an amendment of this rule on the lines of the GermanConstitution, which provides that the leader of the party who wants to replacethe chancellor has to move the no-confidence motion along with the confidencemotion. If the motions succeed, the president appoints him as the chancellor.If such an amendment to Rule 198 is made, the Lok-Sabha would avoid prematuredissolution without diluting the cardinal principle of democracy that is agovernment with the consent of the peoples’ representatives with periodicalelections. It will also be consistent with the notion of collectiveresponsibility of the government to the House as mentioned in Article 75 (3) ofthe Constitution.
Thiswill bring stability and transparency in the system.1.Elections can be held over a period of time (two months or so), this would giveample time to provide staff, security and equipment. Logistics can also bemanaged to conduct elections without any hiccups.2.
Politician’s complacency can be addressed by having mid-term elections, wherevoters in a constituency have the right to reject the minister. This would makethem accountable for what they have promised in the manifesto. Similar solutionwas proposed by BJP MP from Pilibhit4,Varun Gandhi. It is also duly addressed when Zilla Parishad, Mandal Level Panchayat elections are held at different times. 3.
OneNation One Election would be a good change if it could be carried out with theproper implication of policies and rules and taking care of the rising need forgood administrative staff and security officials. Without the requiredfacilities, it is bound to create more problems than it would solve. Theinitiative is well received and supported by many. Only if it gets the right 4.
OneNation One Election would be a good change if it could be carried out with theproper implication of policies and rules and taking care of the rising need forgood administrative staff and security officials. Without the requiredfacilities, it is bound to create more problems than it would solve. Theinitiative is well received and supported by many. Only if it gets the rightrequisites, there is no reason why it wouldn’t prove to be good for theelectoral procedures of the country. Conclusion:Onenation one election is an interesting concept but whether it will decrease theevils that the nation/government wants to get rid of needs to be debatedthoroughly. To be sure, there are multiple issues that will need to beaddressed if the country intends to move in this direction.
The concerns andsuggestions of different stakeholders will have to be debated in order to buildpolitical consensus around the idea. That said, the proposal will not only haveeconomic benefits but will free up precious political space for policydiscussions. It will also help in taking forward the process of economicreforms as decisions will not always be hostage to assembly elections. AnIndian election would be a good change, if it could be done with theappropriate involvement of policies and rules, and care of the growing need forgood administration officials and security forces.
Without the necessaryfacilities, it is bound to create more problems than it solves. The initiativeis welcomed and supported by many. Only if the appropriate requirements will beprovided, there is no reason why it would not be good for the electoral processin the country.
1 “What is a’Goods and Services Tax – GST'” (Goods and Services Tax – GST 2017)