04 Sep One Nation One Election
This article covers “Daily Current Affairs” and the topic details “One Nation, One Election”. The topic “One Nation, One Election” has relevance in the section Polity and Governance of the UPSC CSE exam.
About One Nation, One Election?
GS 2: Polity and Governance
Challenges to Implementing ‘One Nation One Election’?
Solutions for Implementing ‘One Nation One Election’?
Why in the news:
The Union government has formed a committee led by former President Ram Nath Kovind to examine the viability of the “one nation, one election” concept.
One Nation, One Election
- “One Nation, One Election” is a proposed electoral system that aims to synchronize elections across all Indian states and the Lok Sabha (the lower house of parliament). This concept calls for a significant restructuring of the Indian electoral cycle, enabling voters to participate in both state assembly and Lok Sabha elections on the same day or through phased voting.
- Historical Context: Simultaneous elections were a standard practice in India until 1967. However, this practice began to change following the dissolution of certain Legislative Assemblies in 1968 and 1969. The idea of reverting to simultaneous polls gained traction over the years:
- 1983- Election Commission’s Proposal: The concept of simultaneous elections was initially proposed in the annual report of the Election Commission in 1983.
- 1999- Law Commission’s Inclusion: The Law Commission’s report in 1999 also discussed the idea of “One Nation, One Election.”
- 2017- Niti Aayog’s Working Paper: In January 2017, Niti Aayog prepared a working paper on the subject, further exploring the feasibility of this electoral reform.
- 2018- Law Commission’s Recommendations: In April 2018, the Law Commission emphasized that implementing “One Nation, One Election” would require at least “five Constitutional recommendations.”
Challenges to Implementing ‘One Nation One Election’
- Synchronization of Terms
- A critical challenge is aligning the terms of the Lok Sabha and State Legislative Assemblies to enable simultaneous elections.
- Currently, terms vary, leading to different completion dates. Some assemblies had elections recently, while others are due soon.
- Constitutional Amendments Required
- Achieving term synchronization necessitates amendments to several key articles of the Indian Constitution, including:
- Additionally, amendments to the Representation of the People Act and related parliamentary procedures are also necessary.
- Parliamentary Form of Government
- India’s parliamentary system makes it accountable to the Lower House (Lok Sabha or Legislative Assembly).
- Government can fall before completing its term, triggering the need for a new election, posing a challenge to the concept of fixed-term elections.
- Political Consensus
- Convincing all political parties to support “One Nation One Election” is a formidable obstacle.
- Parties may have differing views and interests, making consensus difficult to achieve.
Logistical Challenges in Implementing ‘One Nation One Election’
- Increased EVM and VVPAT Requirements
- Currently, one voting machine is utilized per polling station for elections. However, the move to simultaneous elections would necessitate double the number of Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) and Voter Verified Paper Audit Trails (VVPATs) since both Legislative Assembly and Lok Sabha elections would require separate sets.
- Augmented Polling Staff
- Simultaneous elections would demand additional polling staff to manage the increased workload, further straining existing resources.
- Transportation Challenges
- The logistics of transporting election materials to polling stations become more complex with the need for multiple sets of EVMs and VVPATs.
- Enhanced Security Demands
- Conducting simultaneous elections would require a substantial increase in security arrangements. Central Police Forces would need augmentation to ensure the safety and integrity of the electoral process.
- EVM Storage Issues
- The Election Commission of India (ECI) is already grappling with storage challenges for EVMs after individual elections. This problem would exacerbate with the accumulation of more voting equipment due to simultaneous elections.
Solutions for Implementing ‘One Nation One Election’
- Historical Precedent
- Drawing from India’s electoral history, where simultaneous elections were held from 1951-52 to 1967, reaffirms the feasibility and effectiveness of ‘One Nation One Election.’ This historical precedent can serve as a basis for implementing the concept.
- Expanding to Local Body Elections
- India could consider extending the concept of simultaneous elections to include local body elections, further streamlining the electoral process.
- Fixed Election Dates
- Emulating the United States, India could establish fixed election dates for national and state elections. For example, the Lok Sabha elections could be set to occur on a specific date every five years, ensuring synchronization.
- Alternative Government Formation
- Under the current Parliamentary system, when a government falls before completing its term, India could explore alternative methods of government formation. This might involve inviting the second or third leading person in the house or a leader of a political party to form the government. Alternatively, the House could be provided with the chance to choose its leader.
- Constitutional Amendments
- To facilitate synchronization, constitutional amendments could be made. For instance, if any state assembly’s term is set to end within six months before or after Lok Sabha elections, the state election could be held concurrently with the Lok Sabha polls.
Q.1 In a parliamentary system of government, which of the following statements is true?
(a) All political parties in the parliament have representation in the government.
(b) The government is accountable to the parliament and can be ousted by it.
(c) The government is elected by the populace and can be dismissed by them.
(d) The government is selected by the parliament but cannot be dismissed by it before serving a predetermined term.
Q.2 Consider the following statements about Lok Sabha:
- The Constitution has specified a term of five years for Lok Sabha.
- Term of the Lok Sabha cannot exceed five years.
Which of the statements given above is/are correct?
(a) 1 only
(b) 2 only
(c) Both 1 and 2
(d) Neither 1 nor 2
Q.3 Discuss the potential advantages and challenges of implementing the ‘One Nation, One Election’ concept in India. Provide recommendations for a successful transition to simultaneous elections.