The debate over ‘One Nation, One Election’ continues to rage. There is widespread speculation that this will be the main agenda of the special session of the Parliament convened by the government between September 18 and September 22. The government has also announced the constitution of a committee to study the issue of one nation, one election and come up with its recommendations.
The idea of ‘One Nation, One Election’ is primarily aimed at synchronizing elections to the Lok Sabha and all the state assemblies in the country. The elections to these legislative bodies should either be held on a single day or within a decided time frame. This is not a new concept and some countries are already practising it. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been pushing for this model of elections in the country for quite some time.
The charge of the opposition, though, is that the government wants simultaneous polls now because it is afraid of facing assembly elections in five states due in November-December this year. The government, according to the opposition, is scared of losing which will send a wrong signal to the electorate ahead of the Lok Sabha elections likely to be held in May-June 2024.
But this is nothing more than an allegation because the Prime Minister has been advocating the idea of simultaneous polls for a long time. Such a move has many benefits, the most important of these being reduction in the cost of conducting elections. Opposition leaders resisting the idea must realize that as each election entails huge costs and sets the exchequer back by several crores. This is taxpayers’ money which should be utilized carefully.
Equally important is the fact that simultaneous elections reduce the burden on administrative officials and security forces, who have to be deployed in large numbers for each election in a vast country such as India. In violence-prone states like West Bengal, the deployment of police and paramilitary forces is so heavy that it sometimes aggravates law-and-order problems in other parts of the country where these forces are actually required to maintain peace.
One of the biggest advantages of holding simultaneous elections in a democracy is that it is likely to increase voter turnout, because people will find it easier to cast ballots at one go instead of being made to visit polling booths and queuing up there each time a separate election to a state assembly or to the Lok Sabha is held. Increased voter turnout can be a boon for a democracy, especially in a democracy like India which celebrates elections as the festival of democracy. Opposition leaders would do well to look into the positive side of the ‘One Nation One Election’ concept instead of criticizing it for the sake of scoring political points.