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Q 38- Discuss the benefits and drawbacks of the "One nation, One election" paradigm for Indian politics. (250 words)

  • Paper & Topic: GS II à Representation of Peoples’ Act.

 

  • Model Answer:

 

  • Introduction:

 

  • Simultaneous elections are elections held once every five years for the Lok Sabha, State Legislative Assemblies, Panchayats, and Urban Local Bodies.
  • The idea of holding simultaneous elections has gained traction when the current Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi pushed for it.
  • However, political parties are split on whether or not simultaneous elections should be held.
  • Kashmir's political groups have urged the Election Commission of India (ECI) to hold assembly elections in Jammu and Kashmir concurrently with the impending Lok Sabha elections.

 

  • Body:

 

  • The Indian Law Commission has proposed holding simultaneous state and national elections and has sought public feedback on its suggestions. During India's first two decades of independence, simultaneous elections were held.

 

  • Simultaneous elections have the following advantages:

 

  • Governance and consistency:

 

  • Instead of constantly campaigning, the ruling parties will be able to focus on legislation and governance.
  • Parties and workers that spend too much time and money on electioneering should use that time to do social work and bring grassroots-oriented programmes to people.
  • To address the "policy paralysis and governance deficit" caused by the Model Code of Conduct's imposition during election season, which halts all development operations in that area and has an impact on the bureaucracy's functioning.

 

  • Reduced Expenditure of funds and administration:
  • As is customary, the whole administrative and security machinery at the state and district levels will be occupied with the holding of elections twice every five years.
  • Expenditure can be cut by holding elections at the same time.
  • It is believed that vital manpower is frequently deployed for long periods of time on electoral tasks. If elections are held at the same time, this labour can be used for other essential activities.
  • During example, the Central Armed Police Force deployed 1077 in situ companies and 1349 mobile companies for the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, which were held alongside four state assemblies (CAPF).

 

  • Continuity in policy and programme implementation:
  • Will reduce the impact of elections on daily public life, such as increased traffic and noise pollution.
  • The electoral process involves a large number of teachers, causing the greatest amount of harm to the education system.
  • Simultaneous elections can improve governance by bringing much-needed operational efficiency to the process.
  • Governments' populist measures will be reduced.

 

  • Curbs Vices:
  • There is a surge in "vices" such as communalism, casteism, corruption, and crony capitalism during frequent elections.
  • Simultaneous elections can also help to reduce corruption and create a more stable socioeconomic environment.
  • Because all elections are held at the same time, the impact of black money on voters will be limited.

 

  • Simultaneous election challenges:

 

  • Illiteracy:
  • Not all voters are well-educated enough to understand who they should vote for. They may become perplexed and unsure whether they are voting for candidates running for assembly or parliament.
  • According to an IDFC study, when state and national elections are held at the same time, the Indian voter has a 77 percent likelihood of voting for the same party.
  • Elections held simultaneously promote stronger congruence between national and regional election outcomes, according to evidence from Brazil, Argentina, Canada, Germany, the United States, and Europe.

 

  • Problems with functionality:
  • Frequent elections reconnect politicians with voters, create jobs, and keep local and national issues separate in the eyes of voters.
  • There are insufficient security and administrative personnel to hold simultaneous free and fair elections across the country.

 

  • Constitutional and legislative changes:

 

  • The following constitutional amendments are required:

 

  • The following articles require revisions:

 

  • An amendment to Article 83, which deals with the duration of Houses of Parliament, is required.
  • 85th Article (on dissolution of Lok Sabha by the president)
  • 172nd Article (relating to the duration of state legislatures)
  • 174th Article (relating to dissolution of state assemblies)
  • 356 (on the President's Rule).
  • The 1951 Representation of People Act would need to be changed to provide measures for both parliament and assembly' tenure stability.
  • The following essential aspects should be included:
  • Restructuring the ECI's powers and functions to make the procedures for simultaneous elections go more smoothly
  • Section 2 of the 1951 legislation could be amended to provide a definition of simultaneous election.
  • Articles 83 and 172, as well as articles 14 and 15 of the 1951 act, be appropriately amended to include a provision regarding the remainder of the term, i.e., the new loksabha/assembly so constituted shall only serve for the remainder of the previous loksabha/term assembly's and not for a new five-year term.

 

  • No confidence vote that is constructive:
  • The 170th Law Commission recommended that a new rule, Rule 198-A, be introduced to the Lok Sabha's rules of procedure and conduct of business, as well as comparable amendments in state legislatures.
  • According to the research, a motion of no confidence in the present administration as well as a motion of confidence in the alternative government should be introduced.
  • To avoid premature dissolution of the house/state assembly in the event of a Hung parliament/assembly and to facilitate simultaneous elections, the rigour of the anti-defection law set forth in the tenth schedule should be removed as an exception.
  • Local and national issues will be mixed up, causing priorities to be distorted.
  • Different state governments' terms conclude on different dates and in different years.
  • If India were a unified state, the spirit of the Constitution would make sense: "One nation, one election." As a result, the concept of "one nation, one election" is anti-democratic.
  • Simultaneous elections jeopardise our democracy's federal character.
  • Elections are held on a regular basis to provide checks and balances on the performance of elected officials.

 

  • Steps to take:

 

  • Any changes will require a constitutional amendment as well as judicial confirmation that they do not contradict the Constitution's "basic structure."
  • To work out the necessary implementation specifics, a focused committee of constitutional experts, think tanks, government officials, and representatives from political parties should be assembled.

 

  • Other options for reducing election-related costs should be investigated, including as:

 

  • Election funding by the government
  • Politics is being decriminalised.
  • Increasing political finance transparency
  • Establishing a National Electoral Fund to which all contributors are welcome to contribute.
  • By altering Section 15 of the RP Act 1951, one election can be held every year, as suggested by the Election Commission. Elections for all states whose terms expire in a year can be held concurrently if the six-month stipulation is extended to nine or ten months.
  • In its 1999 report, India's Law Commission addressed the issue of premature and frequent elections. It had proposed changing this procedure to align with the German Constitution, which requires the head of the party seeking to replace the chancellor to file a no-confidence motion alongside a confidence motion. The president instals him as chancellor if the motions pass.
  • The Lok Sabha will prevent premature dissolution if such a modification to Rule 198 is enacted, without weakening the core concept of democracy, which is a government with the permission of the people's representatives and periodic elections.
  • It will also be consistent with Article 75 (3) of the Constitution's notion of the government's common accountability to the House.

 

  • Conclusion:

 

  • The Election Commission's idea of "one year, one election" is better suited because it will require fewer constitutional amendments, it will respect the essence of the exercise of popular will, unlike one nation, one election, which prioritises election costs over the exercise itself, it will avoid clubbing of national and state issues, it will not disrupt federalism, and it will not address many issues arising from emergencies such as the need to hold by-elections, etc.
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