President Kovind champions one nation one election but one big question awaits answer
President Ram Nath Kovind’s address to a joint sitting of Parliament yesterday, spelled out the Modi 2.0 government’s priorities. Notable was the stress on “one nation – simultaneous election”, which Kovind suggested would benefit all Indians, because by enabling all political parties to put more focus on development and public welfare it would help accelerate development. Because elections would come around only once every five years theoretically the parties would be less ‘distracted’ by them the rest of the years.
The argument about ‘one nation one election’ saving the country money is made along similar lines, because not only would the Election Commission have to mobilise vast human (such as teachers and security forces) and other resources only once every five years, but political parties’ expenditure would also go down as they would run overlapping campaigns for assembly and general elections.
Actually India did have simultaneous elections to the Lok Sabha and state assemblies back in 1951-52, 1957, 1962 and 1967. But the cycle got disrupted when some assemblies were dissolved prematurely. In time the Lok Sabha also saw both extension and premature dissolution. If these disruptions caused the elections to go out of sync, imagine the kind of disruptions that would be required to force them back into sync. To start off, this resyncing will need the extension or curtailment of most assemblies and perhaps the Lok Sabha itself, something several parties continue to strongly protest.
But the even more troubling unanswered question is, what happens when the ruling party or coalition loses majority, as has happened several times both in the Lok Sabha and state assemblies. Some say the ‘no-confidence motion’ against a falling government could be accompanied by a ‘confidence motion’ favoring a new government. But that will not always be possible. Look to Karnataka today as a case where the conundrum may occur.
Mid-term elections would countermand ‘one nation one election’. On the other hand, running a state by Governor’s or President’s rule for years would hardly enhance governance, quite apart from what it will do to federalism. And for the Centre even that poor option does not exist.
DISCLAIMER : Views expressed above are the author’s own.