Dr. Syama Prasad Mookerjee Research Foundation

Arguing for the Case of One-Nation-One-Election in India

If one nation one election is introduced then Government of India will be able to save a considerable amount of money, which can be used for the development of the country. 

‘One-Nation-One-Election’, essentially means an electoral process across the country through which Assembly elections and Lok Sabha elections in all states can be held simultaneously. In current times, general elections to the Lok Sabha and State Assemblies are held in India at a gap of five years. However, they do not happen simultaneously. And given the large number of states in India, at any point of time elections are always happening in some or the other states of the country, which puts a huge burden on the government exchequer. Also, this means political parties are always in an election perpetually. This does have an intrinsic negative impact so far as focussing on governance is concerned. 

In order to conduct voting in a fair manner, a large number of government employees have to be allocated in the electoral process, from polling to counting of votes on a regular basis. After the announcement of election at any place, the process of training the polling staff etc. starts.  As a result, work in their specific departments get genuinely disrupted. For example, many teachers are employed for election work. For this reason, the absence of teachers from the preparation phase of the elections significantly disrupts the studies of the students. Generally, election booths are mostly stationed in schools and thus they have to stop classes for quite some time during election times. On the other hand, a large number of Central Forces are deployed to conduct the elections in a fair manner. They are deployed several days before polling and central forces remained deployed till the results of the polls come out. Government schools are also chosen as their place of accommodation in many cases. Thus, in most places, schools have to be closed for about a month or so, and in some places for more than a month as a result of elections. Voting process comes with a lot of promises, but these problems remain behind the public glare. The only way to solve these problems is to introduce a ‘one nation, one election’ system. 

‘One Nation, One Election’ is not a unique experiment in our country.  From independence until 1967, Lok Sabha and Assembly elections were held together in India. Simultaneous elections have been conducted for the Lok Sabha and the state assemblies simultaneously in India in 1952, 1957, 1962 and 1967. However, that did not continue afterwards. This practice was discontinued in 1968-69, because some Legislative Assemblies were dissolved earlier due to various reasons. In 1983, the Election Commission advocated for simultaneous Lok Sabha and Assembly elections across the country, but the then Central Government did not take the issue seriously. Later, in 1999, the Law Commission, in its 170th Report, argued for doing elections to the Lok Sabha and assembly at the same time. The hope is that the present Central Government is playing an active role in making one nation one election possible again. But even today, when it comes to the introduction of this process, opposition parties are against it together. But why? The answer to this question is truly unknown. Simultaneous elections will save a huge amount of money, which can be used for the development of the country. So, what’s the problem with introducing the ‘One Nation, One Election’ system?  That is a million dollar question.

According to the sources, When the first elections to the Lok Sabha took place in 1951-52, almost 53 parties contested the elections in which around 1874 candidates participated and poll expenses were around Rs 11 crore. In 2019 elections, there were 610 political parties, around 9,000 candidates and poll expenses of around Rs 60,000 crore (declared by ADR) are yet to be declared by the political parties. There is a considerable lack of transparency in terms of spending huge amounts of money in the electoral process. It is clear from these that holding elections is a golden opportunity to annex a huge amount of money. In fact, if that election is held only once in five years, then they will not get the scope to enjoy that huge amount of money. That’s why perhaps some oppose ‘one country one election’! 

According to the data of the election commission, in the state of Andhra Pradesh, where state assembly elections were held along with the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, their total expenditure was Rs 489 crore. But on the other hand, if we look at Maharashtra, where state assembly elections were held after the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, Rs 487 crore and Rs 461 crore were spent on Lok Sabha elections and state assembly elections respectively. Similarly, Arunachal Pradesh spent a total of Rs 16.89 crore to conduct simultaneous elections in 2014. However, Delhi spent Rs 34.5 crore and Rs 98.76 crore respectively for the 2014 Lok Sabha and later assembly elections. It is clear from this data that holding simultaneous Lok Sabha and Assembly elections will save the government a huge amount of money. 

On the other hand, the Model Code of Conduct comes into force after the election is announced. As a result, government projects come to a standstill position due to rules. Once during Lok Sabha elections and then followed by the assembly elections, the welfare works have to face repeated hurdles as this process continues. Therefore, a one-time election to the Lok Sabha and State Assemblies will ensure continuity in the policies, schemes and programmes of the central and state governments. This will benefit the common people, to whom the people’s representatives are elected to serve and elections are held. If elections are held once in every five years, the ruling parties will be able to use their time for developmental work. But now it seems that campaigning for elections has become the main goal for some political parties rather than doing work for common people.

 If One-Nation-One-Election is introduced, government schools will be used for voting only once in five years. Therefore, the education of the students will not be affected again and again, and the work government employees will not be interrupted repeatedly.

Opponents of ‘One-Nation-One-Election’ argue that if elections are held multiple times in every five years, politicians will have to face voters repeatedly, which will increase their accountability and motivate them to work more. But In reality, the politics of appeasement starts every time an election is round the corner. Political leaders make bold promises to retain the vote bank but most of them do not materialize. Therefore, it is clear that the argument for repeated elections is completely baseless. Again, this will significantly reduce hate speech, political violence and other law and order problems. And if we talk about the state of West Bengal, It is better to hold elections as less as possible. The cause we all know, is political violence during and after the election. 

Another important point is that repeated elections have led to a reluctance among voters to exercise their democratic rights. Therefore, if the Assembly and Lok Sabha elections are held simultaneously, the vote percentage is also expected to increase. This is certainly good for a democratic state. Due to repeated elections

India is the largest democratic country in the world. The base of this democratic structure is a free and fair election process. At present, it is very important to bring about this reform in India’s electoral system. As a result, on one hand, the amount of money spent from the treasury of the government will be reduced and the common people will also benefit. Perhaps, to introduce the ‘One-Nation-One Election’ process, the government will have to face some legal complications, but all political parties should ideally solve the problem together for the interest of the nation. 

(The Author is Jagran Josh Awardee 2023, having authored three books. Views expressed are his own)