The concept of ‘One Nation, One Election’ was put forward by our Hon’ble Prime Minister in his last tenure itself. While taking forward his developmental policies in his second tenure, he has called a meeting with intention to build consensus amongst all political parties on this issue. This is one such issue, where every political party should come together in the interest of the nation. The general feeling is to consider elections as a result when in fact the election is a process to bring in a government that can implement developmental policies and maintain the governance.
The result of election process is to provide benefit to citizens, to ensure realisation of rights and to ensure all round economic development of the nation, which can be done, more effectively while reducing the resources spent on an election as it will enhance productive days for the governance.
Free and fair elections are integral to any democratic setup but having certainty in terms of tenure of the government and giving opportunity to voters to exercise their right, at minimal cost and inconvenience is also integral part of it. Due to different elections schedule, there are number of elections every year at various places, where a lot of resources get wasted, which could be used for the betterment of the society.
There is no doubt that implementing simultaneous polls would require a substantial shift in the system for which there would be requirement of amendments to the Constitution and election-related laws but when we look at the benefits, we should be ready to take up this exercise. Every new step looks difficult when it is proposed but when we start working on it then it becomes easy. Recent example is GST. Earlier tax collections were separate for the Centre and the States and then we introduced the Goods and Services Tax Council through a constitutional amendment and changed the pattern of taxation between the Centre and the States. There was a transition phase but then it got settled.
There is need to evolve a system to give maximum productive period out of five years assigned to the incumbent government so the government can focus upon governance and development. Undoub-tedly this will help to curb the expenditure and the same money will get converted into finance, which could play a vital role in socio-economic development. Simultaneous election will ensure stable political and administrative system with satisfactory law and order situations in our country. There is strong need to focus upon developmental work after coming out from Vidhan Sabha elections, Zilla Parishad elections, Panchayat elections, and municipal elections throughout the year.
There are some instances of General Elections and State Assemblies Elections taking place together till the year 1967. Regular elections, waste resources which could be used for the betterment of the society and the same could be controlled if we go for all or many elections in same time frame. If all Lok Sabha and State Assembly Elections are held within same calendar year, we can clearly give at least four years to the ruling parties to focus on development and good governance.
Due to frequent elections, security personnel and government officials go on election duty for several months in every year. One of the most pertinent examples of wastage of human resource for longer than required is engagement of teachers for various election duties round the year. Who gets benefited from this, and at what cost that we must assess. Teachers do such mandatory duties at the cost of student’s time, which was to get invested for the future India.
A similar situation affects other government employees also. Simultaneous elections can bring the much-needed operational efficiency in governance without wasting our resources. Such a sensitive and far-reaching reform requires unanimous support from all political parties because in the larger context of economic development and implementation of election promises without creation of the impediments due to enforcement of Model Code of Conduct as a result of frequent elections, the prospects of holding simultaneous elections need to be weighed and deeply considered by all political parties. This Report of the Committee seeks to open up debate on this important issue and to try and establish national consensus to avoid frequent elections. Parliamentary Committee reports have proposed implementable roadmaps for simultaneous elections. Many developed countries have implemented such policies.
The Law Commission of India under chairmanship of Justice B.S. Chauhan released its draft report on Simultaneous Elections on 30th Aug, 2018. The report examined legal and constitutional questions involved in conducting simultaneous elections and then observed that holding simultaneous elections will save public money, reduce burden on the administrative setup and security forces, ensure timely implementation of government policies, and will also ensure that the administrative machinery is engaged in development activities rather than electioneering.
While holding simultaneous elections may not be feasible without complete preparation, I am confident that under effective leadership of our Hon’ble Prime Minister, a solution will be found to reduce the frequency of elections, which relieve people from many avoidable inconveniences and government from administering frequent electoral processes and also political parties from unnecessary expenditure.
This reform would play a vital role in the development of India, politically as well as economically. We have to move out from the old comfort zone if we want to compete with other Nations in developmental agenda on real time basis.
(Bhupendra Yadav is BJP national general secretary, incharge of Gujarat and Bihar and Rajya Sabha MP)...