One Nation, One Election: When did One Nation One Election Happen First, What are the Advantages and Disadvantages?

Join Our WhatsApp Channel Join Now
Join Our Telegram Channel Join Now

People are talking a lot about ‘One Nation One Election’ because there’s a committee set up to see if we can have elections for the Lok Sabha (like the national government) and the state assemblies at the same time. Let’s break it down.

What’s ‘One Nation, One Election’?

The government has put together a group led by former President Ramnath Kovind. Their job is to figure out if we can hold elections for both the Lok Sabha and the state assemblies all across India at the same time. They’re going to look into how elections work in our country. The government has called a special meeting of Parliament from September 18th to 22nd to talk about this. This meeting made us aware of this committee’s formation.

This idea isn’t new. About 40 years ago, in 1983, the Election Commission first suggested having ‘One Nation One Election.’ Now, in 2023, the government is forming a committee to see if it’s possible and makes sense.
The timing of this committee is interesting. Five states are getting ready for assembly elections in November and December, which will happen before the Lok Sabha elections next year in April and May. The government might think about having some of these state elections at the same time as the national elections.

PM Modi’s Support for ‘One Nation One Election’

Prime Minister Narendra Modi strongly supports the idea of holding elections for the Lok Sabha and state assemblies simultaneously. In 2019, he talked about this during his speech at the Red Fort. He acknowledged that there’s a national debate about this, and he believes it should be discussed in a democratic manner. He thinks that to make India the best it can be, we need to consider new ideas like ‘One Nation One Election.’

Has ‘One Nation One Election’ Happened Before?

Yes, there was a time when we had simultaneous elections for both the Lok Sabha (our national government) and state assemblies. This happened between 1951 and 1967. In 1951-52, we had general elections and state assembly elections at the same time. This pattern continued in 1957, 1962, and 1967.

However, in 1959, the government led by the CPI was dismissed, and President’s rule was imposed. Special state elections were held in Kerala in 1960, which meant that the state government wasn’t dissolved in 1962 when general elections were held. President’s rule was imposed in Kerala again in 1964. Although elections took place in 1965, President’s rule continued until 1967. As a result, elections for the Kerala Legislative Assembly were once again held along with the general elections.

Challenges to Simultaneous Elections

The idea of holding simultaneous elections for the Lok Sabha and state assemblies faces several challenges, as demonstrated by historical events and recent experiences:

1. Premature Dissolution of Assemblies: In 1968 and 1969, the plan for simultaneous elections was disrupted because some state assemblies were dissolved prematurely. This also happened to the fourth Lok Sabha, which was dissolved ahead of schedule, leading to new elections in 1971. This highlights that both Lok Sabha and state assemblies can be dissolved before their normal term expires, creating complications for synchronized elections.

2. Frequent State Elections: Following the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, many states have conducted assembly elections, occurring regularly from April-May 2019 onwards. Currently, 5-7 states hold assembly elections every year. This frequent electoral cycle disrupts public life, affecting daily routines and creating a sense of instability.

3. Disruption and Impact on Essential Services: Frequent elections disrupt normal public life and the smooth functioning of essential services. Political rallies and campaign activities can lead to road traffic disruptions, causing inconvenience for the general public. Additionally, the noise pollution generated during election campaigns adds to the challenges faced by communities.

4. Model Code of Conduct: The implementation of the Model Code of Conduct by the Election Commission during election periods is an important factor. While it ensures fair campaigning and conduct, it can hamper ongoing development projects and affect the governance process.

5. Financial Costs: Frequent elections require substantial financial resources. The government and other stakeholders must allocate funds for election-related activities, infrastructure, and security arrangements. This places a significant financial burden on both the government and taxpayers.

6. Prolonged Deployment of Security Forces: Security forces have to be deployed for extended periods during elections to maintain law and order. This prolonged deployment affects their availability for other essential duties and can strain resources.

In summary, the challenges related to simultaneous elections include premature dissolution of assemblies, frequent state elections disrupting public life, disruption of essential services, the impact of the Model Code of Conduct on development and governance, financial costs, and prolonged deployment of security forces. These challenges have prompted discussions about the feasibility and benefits of ‘One Nation One Election.’

Critics’ Views on ‘One Nation One Election’

Critics of the ‘One Nation One Election’ concept raise several concerns:

1. Political Motivation: Critics argue that the idea of holding simultaneous elections may be driven by political motives rather than a genuine desire for efficiency. They believe that it could be used to manipulate the behavior of voters, making them focus more on national issues even during state elections. This could benefit major national parties and potentially sideline regional parties that often champion local interests.

2. Marginalizing Regional Parties: Critics fear that if simultaneous elections become the norm, it could lead to a situation where big national parties dominate both the Lok Sabha and state assembly elections. This could marginalize regional parties, which are often more attuned to local concerns and have a distinct role in representing regional interests.

3. Accountability and Alertness: Some critics argue that facing the voters more frequently, rather than just once every five years, increases the accountability of politicians. Frequent elections keep politicians on their toes and encourage them to stay connected with their constituents.

Supporters’ and Opponents’ Stance

While there are critics of the idea, there are also supporters:

  • AIADMK: AIADMK supported ‘One Nation One Election’ after thorough consideration.
  • Assam Gana Parishad: This party believes that simultaneous elections would reduce the financial burden on smaller political parties.
  • IUML: According to IUML, holding simultaneous elections would save time and resources.
  • DMDK: DMDK supports the idea of having fixed tenures for both the Lok Sabha and state assemblies.
  • Shiromani Akali Dal: This party supports the idea but highlights the need for clarity in cases where there’s a hung assembly (no party has a clear majority).

In conclusion, the debate over ‘One Nation One Election’ is multifaceted, with critics concerned about potential political manipulation and marginalization of regional parties. Supporters, on the other hand, believe it could streamline the electoral process, reduce costs, and save time. The differing opinions reflect the complexity of this proposed reform.

Opposition to Simultaneous Elections by Some Parties

Several political parties have voiced their opposition to the concept of holding simultaneous elections:

  • AIMIM (All India Majlis-e-Ittehad-ul-Muslimeen): AIMIM has opposed the idea of simultaneous elections.
  • Trinamool Congress: The Trinamool Congress rejected the idea, describing the postponement of elections as undemocratic and unconstitutional.
  • CPI (Communist Party of India): The CPI expressed its opposition to the idea, deeming it impractical.
  • Congress: The Indian National Congress, one of the major political parties in India, also rejected the idea of simultaneous elections as impractical.
  • NCP (Nationalist Congress Party): The NCP shared a similar opinion, opposing the concept of simultaneous elections.

These parties have raised concerns or objections about the feasibility, democratic principles, or practicality of conducting simultaneous elections for the Lok Sabha and state assemblies. The differing views among political parties reflect the complexity and diverse perspectives surrounding this proposed electoral reform.

The constitutional provisions regarding the tenure of the Lok Sabha (House of the People) and State Legislative Assemblies are as follows:

  1. Lok Sabha (Article 83 of the Constitution):
    • Article 83(2) stipulates that the Lok Sabha has a term of five years from the date of its first meeting.
    • The Lok Sabha can be dissolved before the completion of its five-year term, but its tenure cannot be extended under normal circumstances.
  2. State Legislative Assemblies (Article 172 of the Constitution):
    • Article 172(1) specifies that the State Legislative Assembly (Vidhan Sabha) also has a term of five years from the date of its first meeting.
    • Similar to the Lok Sabha, State Legislative Assemblies can be dissolved before the completion of their five-year term, but their tenure cannot be extended under normal circumstances.

In summary, both the Lok Sabha and State Legislative Assemblies in India have a fixed term of five years from the date of their first meeting, as per the constitutional provisions. While they can be dissolved before the completion of their term, their tenure cannot be extended except in cases of emergency or special circumstances.

Historical Development of the Idea of Simultaneous Elections

The concept of holding simultaneous elections in India has evolved over the years:

  • First Suggestion in 1983: The idea of simultaneous elections was first suggested by the Election Commission in 1983. This proposal was included in the first annual report of the Election Commission of India published in that year.
  • Law Commission Recommendation in 1999: In 1999, the Law Commission of India, chaired by Justice BP Jeevan Reddy, submitted its 170th report on electoral law reforms. This report recommended the implementation of simultaneous elections as a part of broader electoral reforms.
  • Parliamentary Committee’s Examination in 2015: In 2015, the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Personnel, Public Grievances, Law, and Justice released its 79th report, suggesting the idea of simultaneous elections as a means to promote long-term good governance. The committee also examined the feasibility of such elections.
  • NITI Aayog’s Report in 2017: In 2017, NITI Aayog, a policy think tank of the Indian government, prepared a report on the issue of simultaneous elections. This report likely explored the practical aspects and potential benefits of holding elections concurrently.
  • Law Commission’s Draft Report in 2018: On August 30, 2018, the Law Commission of India, under the leadership of Justice BS Chauhan, released its draft report on simultaneous elections. This report delved into the legal and constitutional aspects of implementing simultaneous elections, addressing key questions and considerations.

These various reports and recommendations have contributed to the ongoing discussions and considerations regarding the feasibility and implications of conducting simultaneous elections for the Lok Sabha and state assemblies in India.

Influence on Voter Behavior in Simultaneous Elections

An analysis conducted by the IDFC Institute has shed light on how simultaneous elections can impact voter behavior in India. According to this analysis:

  • When both Lok Sabha (national) and Assembly (state) elections are held simultaneously, there is a 77 percent chance that voters will choose the same political party for both levels of government. In other words, there’s a high likelihood of voters aligning their choices for national and state representatives.

Accountability and Frequent Elections

On the other hand, frequent election cycles—where elections for Lok Sabha and state assemblies are held separately—serve as a form of accountability. In this system:

  • Various local and state-level issues can influence elections at different times. This means that voters may consider different factors and priorities when voting in separate national and state elections.

These insights highlight the potential impact of the electoral system on voter behavior. While simultaneous elections may lead to a higher degree of consistency in voting patterns, frequent elections allow voters to express their views on a broader range of issues and hold politicians accountable for their performance at different levels of government. The choice between these two approaches involves a trade-off between consistency and accountability in the electoral process.

Challenges in Holding Simultaneous Elections

The idea of simultaneous elections presents several challenges:

  • Synchronizing Terms: Synchronizing the terms of Legislative Assemblies and the Lok Sabha for simultaneous elections is a complex task. It would require adjusting the existing terms of some state legislatures, which could be challenging due to legal and constitutional considerations.
  • Midterm Changes: If elections are held simultaneously, and the ruling party or coalition loses its majority in the Lok Sabha or state assemblies midway through the term, it raises questions about the continuity of governance and stability.
  • Fixed Tenure: The concept of holding simultaneous elections also raises the question of whether the tenure of the Lok Sabha and Legislative Assemblies should be fixed. This would require constitutional amendments.
  • Practical Feasibility: Conducting elections on such a large scale, simultaneously across the country, poses significant logistical, security, and manpower challenges for the Election Commission. It would require careful planning and resource allocation to ensure a smooth electoral process.
  • Synchronization of State Assemblies: To implement simultaneous elections, the terms of state assemblies would need to be synchronized, which may necessitate changes in the election schedules and term durations of some state legislatures.

Addressing these challenges would require a comprehensive and coordinated approach involving legal, constitutional, logistical, and administrative considerations. The feasibility of simultaneous elections depends on finding practical solutions to these complex issues while upholding the principles of democracy and governance.

Synchronizing Elections Through Constitutional Amendments

Synchronizing elections for the Lok Sabha and State Legislative Assemblies would indeed require constitutional amendments. Here’s how it can be done:

  1. Amending Articles in the Constitution: Key provisions in the Constitution that govern the terms and conduct of elections for the Lok Sabha and State Assemblies include Articles 83, 85, 172, 174, and 356. To enable simultaneous elections, these articles would need to be amended through a constitutional process.
  2. Fixed Terms: One of the primary changes required would be establishing fixed terms for both the Lok Sabha and State Assemblies. This would mean specifying a predetermined duration for their tenure.
  3. Synchronization of Terms: Once fixed terms are established, efforts would need to be made to synchronize the terms of all State Assemblies so that they align with the term of the Lok Sabha.
  4. Transitional Provisions: During the transition to synchronized elections, transitional provisions may be necessary to adjust the terms of some State Assemblies, ensuring that they fall in line with the new election schedule.
  5. Legal Framework: Detailed legal and administrative frameworks would be needed to manage the logistics, security, and other practical aspects of conducting simultaneous elections.
  6. Political Consensus: Achieving political consensus and garnering support from various political parties and states would be crucial for the successful implementation of simultaneous elections.

Synchronizing elections is a complex and multifaceted process that requires careful planning, constitutional amendments, and collaboration among different stakeholders. It aims to strike a balance between maintaining democratic principles and ensuring efficiency in the electoral process.

Estimated Costs of Conducting Elections

The estimated costs of conducting elections in India can vary over time and depending on various factors. Here are some estimated costs for holding elections:

1. Separate Lok Sabha and Assembly Elections (Rs 10,000 crore): This figure suggests that conducting separate Lok Sabha and State Assembly elections can cost approximately Rs 10,000 crore. However, it’s important to note that election costs can fluctuate due to inflation and changing circumstances.
2. Lok Sabha and State Assembly Elections (Around Rs 4,500 crore in 2018): In 2018, estimates indicated that the cost of conducting elections for the Lok Sabha and state assemblies combined was approximately Rs 4,500 crore. Again, this cost can vary over time and may have increased since then.

Election costs typically cover a wide range of expenses, including voter registration, election infrastructure, security, personnel, transportation, and administrative expenses. The actual cost of elections can depend on factors such as the number of constituencies, the size of the electorate, the use of technology, and security arrangements.

It’s important to consider that these figures are estimates and may not reflect the exact costs incurred for specific elections. Additionally, the cost of simultaneous elections could differ from the combined cost of separate elections due to potential changes in logistics and operational efficiencies.

Responsibility for Election Expenses

The responsibility for bearing election expenses in India is divided between the Government of India and the respective State Governments, depending on the level of the election:

  1. Lok Sabha Elections: The entire expenditure on the actual conduct of Lok Sabha elections (national elections) is borne by the Government of India. This includes expenses related to voter registration, polling stations, election personnel, transportation, security, and other operational costs.
  2. State Legislative Assembly Elections: Elections to state legislatures, such as State Legislative Assemblies, are conducted by the respective State Governments. Therefore, the expenses for conducting state-level elections are primarily the responsibility of the state government. This includes the cost of maintaining law and order during the election process.
  3. Simultaneous Elections: If Lok Sabha elections and State Legislative Assembly elections are held simultaneously, the expenditure is shared between the Government of India and the respective State Governments. This sharing of expenses is intended to address the financial burden of holding elections at both the national and state levels concurrently.

    It’s important to note that while the central and state governments bear the expenses related to the actual conduct of elections, political parties and candidates are responsible for their own campaign expenses, which are subject to legal limits and regulations set by the Election Commission of India.

Deployment of Security and Police Forces During Frequent Elections

The frequent conduct of elections in India, especially in multiple state assemblies every six months, does indeed require significant deployment of central security forces and state police forces. This extensive and prolonged deployment can have several implications:

  1. Resource Allocation: A considerable portion of the armed police force’s resources and manpower is dedicated to election security during these periods. This allocation can affect their availability for other critical internal security tasks.
  2. Operational Efficiency: The primary role of armed police forces is to maintain law and order, handle security threats, and respond to emergencies. Frequent election duties can divert their attention and resources away from these core responsibilities.
  3. Costs: The extended deployment of security forces during elections can result in increased operational costs, including personnel expenses, logistics, and infrastructure requirements.
  4. Security Gaps: Prolonged deployment during elections can potentially create security gaps in areas that require continuous vigilance and response to security challenges.
  5. Impact on Morale: Extended deployments can impact the morale and well-being of security personnel, potentially affecting their effectiveness and job satisfaction.

Simultaneous Elections in Various Countries

The concept of simultaneous elections is not unique to India and has been implemented in different forms in several countries around the world. Here are some examples of countries where simultaneous elections occur:

  1. Brazil: In Brazil, both presidential and legislative elections are held simultaneously. Brazil follows a presidential form of government.
  2. Colombia: Similar to Brazil, Colombia, which also has a presidential form of government, conducts elections for both the presidency and the legislative level concurrently.
  3. Philippines: The Philippines, with a presidential system of government, holds simultaneous elections for the presidency and legislative positions.
  4. South Africa: South Africa conducts simultaneous elections for both general elections and provincial elections. These elections occur every five years, while municipal elections take place separately, every two years.
  5. Sweden: Sweden’s electoral system is characterized by simultaneous elections held on a fixed date every four years. This includes elections for the national legislature, provincial legislatures/county councils, and local bodies/municipal assemblies. The date for these elections is the second Sunday of September.

here multiple levels of elections are held together, are practiced in various countries, each with its unique approach. Brazil, Colombia, and the Philippines hold presidential and legislative elections simultaneously, while South Africa combines general and provincial elections, with separate municipal elections. Sweden adopts fixed-term elections for national, provincial, and local levels.
In India, the proposal for simultaneous elections faces challenges, including constitutional amendments and logistical complexities, but is considered a potential means to streamline governance and reduce election-related disruptions. The global experiences offer insights into the possibilities and challenges of this electoral reform, shaping ongoing discussions on simultaneous elections.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top