Recently PM Modi had invited heads all parties in the Parliament to a meeting to discuss ‘One Nation, One Election’. Don’t we think, in India, Frequent Elections are like celebrating festivals in India? Election Commission of India conducts election after one or two or three months in India. Frequent Elections is a big problem In India. Frequent elections, according to experts, hamper long-term policy making because every decision is seen as bait for votes.
“One Nation, One Election” means structuring the Indian election cycle in such a manner that elections to Lok Sabha and State Assemblies are synchronised together. In such a scenario, a voter would normally cast his/her vote for electing members of Lok Sabha and State Assembly on a single day and at the same time. We all are aware that in 1952, for the first Lok Sabha elections it cost around Rs 11 crore, while in 2014 general elections, the government spent almost Rs 3,870 crore. In 2019, and there was 40 per cent jump from 2014 costing an unprecedented Rs 50,000 crores, according to the New Delhi based Centre for Media Studies.
These are just paper records and estimates. Add to this the cost of various incentives like television sets, goats, liquor and other personal goods to influence the voters. It was among the world’s most expensive elections. Preparing and conducting elections costs the public exchequer hundreds of crore each time and the money is mostly spent on arrangements, salaries, and security.
Thus, holding simultaneous polls will lead to significant savings of public funds that can be better utilised elsewhere. Almost all political parties spend large sums of money in ensuring that no stone is left Unturned during campaigning. Holding simultaneous elections will ensure that the ministers can dedicate a good four years towards implementing policies and doing constructive work for their constituencies.
The cost of such elections, the inevitable allegations of corruption and vote buying along with the expense of providing security and the logistics of conducting one election after another is raising the call for electoral reform across the country. The code of conduct which effectively stops all the agendas of government will be enforced only once, giving more time to governments to perform.
With elections taking place at various schedules, political parties and ministers are always in election mode which disrupts and distorts agendas with parties deferring reforms or make decisions with short-term views, thereby depriving citizens of clear policies. Apart from money, the other significant resource needed in abundance is the deployment of security forces. Holding simultaneous elections to the Lok Sabha and the state legislatures it will free up security forces, which are diverted from their core duties for each election. The winning party gets a clear mandate in all houses and is increasingly prone to become autocratic and corrupt, sensing invincibility.
With elections being announced the MCC comes into force. The Model Code of Conduct (MCC) which comes into force with the announcement of poll dates, prevents the government from announcing any new schemes, make any new appointments, transfers, and postings without the approval of election commission. This brings normal work of the government to a standstill.
Expenses for conducting elections are not only incurred by the Election Commission but also by the Government at both the centre and at the state level. The Government of India is burdened with the expenses of conducting elections for the Lok Sabha. With every successive election, there is a rise in the expenditure in conducting elections which is a burden on the exchequer. With the implementation of a single election in five years, there will be an overall decline in the expenses incurred by the government which they can utilise for the betterment of the people.
It is nice that the present Modi government is working and has made the “One Nation” theory as their most peculiar aspect in order to rule and maintain the ongoing nation. The scheme of GST is under the One nation, One tax theory. Thus, the “One nation” theory has also been in thoughts for the election in India.
(The views expressed by the author in the article are his/her own.)