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Feasibility of One Nation One Poll

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G Indira
G Indira
Author of the book: The India I Know and of Hinduism. Ex-Publications in -charge Pragna Bharati Organisation, Hyderabad. Academician and free-lancer

India is 70 plus. The country has to rethink and reorient in order to progress. One has to ponder over on- whether to conduct elections relentlessly throughout months and years – by a government- in its term of 5-years. These elections keep the government on its toes with no smooth sailing. The perennial elections make the government to please the people than to prosper the country as a whole. Sometimes for the country to progress, the people have to swallow the bitter pills of economic and strategic reforms. For which, the party in power needs much leverage and breathing space than continually going for elections in one state or the other.

The Prime Minister of India’s proposed policy of ‘one nation one poll’ was agreed upon by all politicians from all parties ‘in principle’ instead of innumerable polls, proverbially at the drop of the hat in the country. Soon after Independence, polls were conducted to the Parliament and State Assemblies simultaneously. That had happened till 1967. Later with dissolution of state assemblies and parliament due to no-confidence motions or total collapse or failure of the elected, elections began taking place intermittently. This kind of frequent electoral disturbance was not envisaged by our founding fathers of the Constitution.

To start with- Lok Sabha, Assembly Elections for states, local bodies like Panchayats and Municipal elections- should they all go in one time or not, is to be debated. Apart from the above series, Rajya Sabha elections and unending saga of national and state by-polls, when a candidate resigns or expires, are another headache. In each case of election: big or small, poll or by-poll the incumbent government or the party that’s governing, if it loses the poll, it is humiliated and castigated as an unfit to rule by the baiters from among the journalists and politicians. Somehow, this criticism, in itself, is not totally wrong as it opens the eyes of the incumbent government to see things with more clarity. However, there are varied reasons for a loss, including the candidate who is fielded: whether the person is electorally weak or strong (electoral merit), personal probity and integrity, work among people of his constituency to their satisfaction etc. irrespective of the party that has put him up.

Model code of conduct and election machinery: Frequent elections and application of model code of conduct hampers the developmental programmes (of the incumbent government) leading to policy paralysis. Moreover, the government machinery is geared to the peaceful conduct of the election. The officers from the cadre of IAS rank to teaching staff to security personnel, are all allotted to poll duty, by avoiding their main duties of work for weeks and months together. During this period, security where it is in need viz. shopping malls, airports, jails etc. would be depleted. So, those aforesaid establishments become more vulnerable for mischievous forces.

Regional parties lose their hold: simultaneous elections to the parliament and states would not be a threat to regional parties. They have their say and sway where they belong to i.e. to that particular region. India is not Luteyns Delhi. National politics is only notional in states. For, water supply, power supply, hospitals, police stations are all state provided. Even in the recent state assembly elections along with the parliament, Odisha is a textbook example followed by Telangana for giving good state governance by their respective regional parties to win: BJD and TRS.

Cost-saving: simultaneous elections cut the cost. For, the same polling booths, the same polling personnel deployed, same police, same IAS officers, in the same tent – electronic voting machines one for the state assembly and one for the parliament would suffice. Hence, there is no dispute on cost- effectiveness. So, with the same amount of strain of personnel, the cost would be saved in a simultaneous elections.

Anxieties: people’s representatives once elected (for a 5-year fixed period) may not turn to people in distress, is one of the anxieties in a large democracy like India. And there will not be any mid-term check or course correction for the government that is running on a guaranteed 5-year term, is another fear. These issues are in a way genuine and need to be addressed. For a solution, instead of clubbing parliament elections with all state elections, parliament at one time, after that in 2-3 year gap (somewhere midway), if state elections are conducted (in one go) that would be fair to make a fair assessment of things. In any case, the painful conduct of too many elections should have to be stopped.

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G Indira
G Indira
Author of the book: The India I Know and of Hinduism. Ex-Publications in -charge Pragna Bharati Organisation, Hyderabad. Academician and free-lancer
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