One India, One election an interesting concept but its benefits not clear yet | editorials | Hindustan Times
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One India, One election an interesting concept but its benefits not clear yet

The normal election routine keeps the politicians on their toes and enhances accountability, and more importantly, local and national issues don’t get mixed up to distort priorities. If the duration of elections has to be cut, then the EC must be given more security forces and administrative staff

editorials Updated: Sep 06, 2016 21:23 IST
One India, One Vote is not a new idea: It was first raised by former Deputy Prime Minister and BJP’s senior leader LK Advani. In a May 2010 blogpost, he advocated a fixed term for elected bodies and a need for simultaneous elections
One India, One Vote is not a new idea: It was first raised by former Deputy Prime Minister and BJP’s senior leader LK Advani. In a May 2010 blogpost, he advocated a fixed term for elected bodies and a need for simultaneous elections(Arun Sharma/HT)

In a TV interview recently, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said that India is in a perpetual election mode and this hampers long-term policymaking because every decision is seen as bait for votes. The PM’s stand on the issue received support from President Pranab Mukherjee on Monday when he said that there was an emerging idea within the political parties that the elections should be held together and that the Election Commission of India can put in their ideas and efforts on holding the polls together.

This, however, is not a new idea: It was first raised by former Deputy Prime Minister and BJP’s senior leader LK Advani. In a May 2010 blogpost, he advocated a fixed term for elected bodies and a need for simultaneous elections. The leaders of several parties also raised the issue, leading to a Parliament committee examining it. The three reasons why some politicians want elections is this: Frequent elections bring policy making to a standstill; the cost; and increase in “vices” such as communalism, casteism, corruption and crony capitalism.

Read: It’s time to hold simultaneous elections for Lok Sabha and state assemblies

Some, however, not impressed with these reasons. Writing in a national daily, former election commissioner SY Quraishi said that while simultaneous elections to panchayat, assembly and Lok Sabha may be desirable, they are not feasible. While admitting that normal work comes to a standstill, he said that the cost can be brought under control by ensuring that the legal cap on expenditure of candidates is followed by all parties which outsmart the election commission by spending before the model code of conduct comes into play. The normal election routine, the former CEC wrote, also keeps the politicians on their toes and enhances accountability, and more importantly, local and national issues don’t get mixed up to distort priorities. If the duration of elections has to be cut, then the EC must be given more security forces and administrative staff.

Read: Holding simultaneous elections not feasible: Navin Chawla

A study done by IDFC institute, a think-tank, analysed electoral data since 1999. They chose all states that have had coinciding elections with each of these Parliament elections and compared assembly segment wise winners for Parliament and assembly. In 16 cases of simultaneous elections between 1999-2014, cumulatively 302 million voters expressed 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 average voter is acutely discerning of the difference between voting for her state representative and national, there is very little actual evidence of it,” the paper said.

Read: Concurrent Elections, Concurrent Winners?

One India, One election is an interesting concept but whether it will decrease the evils that the nation/government wants to get rid of needs to be debated thoroughly.