One Nation, One Election: Contradicting Views

The debate on the issue of the simultaneous polls to Assembly and Lok Sabha are again at the forefront. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has called an all-party meeting to discuss the issue of simultaneous polls.

Views of those who favour the Idea

  • Reduced Expenditure on public exchequer: The money spent by the Election Commission on 2014 Lok Sabha polls was Rs 3,426 crore and the actual expenditure was around Rs 35,000 crore. Similar huge quantum of money is spent on assembly polls. Simultaneous polls will help in saving time and money.
  • Improved Governance: Recurrent Polls adversely affect the governance since the conduction of elections becomes the priority of the official government machinery and governance issues take back seat. Simultaneous polls will aid the government in focusing on governance.
  • Simultaneous Polls was a norm in the post-independence era: Simultaneous polls for Parliament and state assemblies were held together in 1951-52, 1957, 1962 and 1967.

Views of those who oppose the Idea

  • Financial Burden an Overstretched Argument: Simultaneous polls also come at a cost. Law Commission estimates that over Rs 4,500 crore will be required to buy new EVMs if simultaneous elections were held in 2019. Also, the EVMs needs to be replaced every 15 years. This would result in an additional burden since the number of EVMs required for simultaneous polls are exorbitant.
  • Against the Ideals of the Constitution: The Constitution does not prescribe a fixed tenure for Lok Sabha or state legislatures. Further prolonging the term of the Lok Sabha or state assemblies to accommodate simultaneous polls will be against the ideals of the constitution.
  • Differential Priority: The concerns of the voters are different for parliamentary and assembly elections. In the case of simultaneous polls, voters may end up voting on national issues even for state elections. This would benefit larger national parties and marginalise regional parties.

Sustainability of State Polls

To ensure the government is not reduced to minority without an alternative, an idea has been proposed that a no-confidence motion to be followed by a confidence motion to ensure that if the opposition doesn’t have the numbers to form an alternative government, the regime in office cannot be removed.