Addressing the concluding session of the All India Presiding Officers Conference at Kevadia in Gujarat, Prime Minister Narendra Modi-ji renewed his pitch for ‘One Nation, One Election’. ‘Elections are hampering development, there is an election every month across the country’, this is colossal waste of money and resources at the expense of development, he said.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi ji has been advocating the concept of holding simultaneous polls since 2017; he has asserted on multiple occasions and platforms that this will ensure political stability and curtail the burden on public exchequer.
The total cost of holding elections to a Lok Sabha seat amounts to Rs.50-70 lakhs depending upon the state and Rs. 20-28 lakh per assembly candidate.
Now compare this with cost necessitated as a result of by elections held in 2019 for 56 assembly seats in 11 seats earlier this year. Madhya Pradesh went into polls for 28 constituencies, 8 in Gujarat, 7 in Uttar Pradesh, 2 each in Orissa, Nagaland, Karnataka and Jharkhand and one seat in Chattisgarh, Telangana and Haryana.
The total Election cost for the by polls amounted to 1, 428, 00, 000 /-.
Adding to this, there is an election every month in the country in any of the Panchayat, Municipal, Assembly, Lok Sabha or by polls necessitated due to death, resignation or other reasons.
‘Indian Polity is perennially in an election mode’
In 2018, Law Commission had submitted a report which recommended simultaneous polls. The law commission has submitted a report on August 2018, recommending changes in Constitution and electoral law to hold simultaneous polls. Presently, five states go to polls each year.
He also said that presiding officers of different legislatures have to take this initiative in this direction, which will save thousands of crores of rupees and utilize manpower for development purposes. He also said that the Model Code of Conduct comes as a constraint stalling development projects and procrastinating important infrastructural works at the expense of tax payer’s money.
Modi-ji said that a single voter’s list should be prepared for the Lok Sabha, Assembly and Panchayat polls, which will eliminate separate lists which are waste of resources.
The idea of ‘One Nation, One Election’ was first mooted by Late Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee, who had suggested this idea to Congress President Sonia Gandhi, who did not show any interest in pursuing the same. Having simultaneous elections was vociferously supported by former President Pranab Mukherjee ji.
Leaving no stone unturned, the BJP has submitted a report in this regard under the chairmanship of its senior party leader Vinay Sahashrabuddhe, after in detail discussions with the stakeholders. Let us see the various reasons, why this well thought out decision should be implemented.
Let us see, the benefits of ‘One Nation, One Election’ in this article:
As per available statistics, the expenditure of last elections amounted to a whopping 60,000 crores. This huge expenditure is almost half the cost of a bullet train or equivalent to building a Metro train route for a distance of 50 kilometres. Under the present scenario, if we are to achieve to the target of Trillion Economy and focus on using our resources on development rather than diverting the resources for election work, it is imperative on our part to go for polls simultaneously.
Code of Conduct
Whenever, polls are held, the code of conduct is in place which restricts development projects, in turn increasing their completion time, this procrastination cost is again borne by the tax payer. When simultaneous polls are held with proper planning and implementation, such delays can be avoided. The thrust will be on development rather than Electioneering.
Agenda of Development
With elections being held every month in India, political parties tend to focus their strategy on winning the polls, campaigning, travelling rather focussing on development strategies and implementation of them. Having polls simultaneously help them divert the time and resources for development projects.
End to Appeasement Politics
More often than not, political parties resort to upgrade infrastructure or take up development projects only during the time preceding the elections. This is just hogwash, as the projects sans quality and the contractors, builder lobby make huge money through poor quality executions. Having elections simultaneously negates this impediment to a certain extent. Such appeasement practices will end gradually as Politicians will think of implementing long term policies which will benefit the public rather such stop gap development work.
Political parties focus on Policy formulation based on voter instincts; which should not be the case. It should be formulated to resolve our major problems such as Poverty alleviation, Unemployment, Infrastructure, Health and Women Empowerment. In the current scenario, of frequent polls, Policy makers tend to make policies favouring the voters, the idea of simultaneous polls will discourage policy makers to please a community, caste as they will analyse that the outcome will be based on long term strategies rather than short term appeasement strategies.
Whenever, elections are held at the same time, it gives enough time for the Election
Commission of India, Paramilitary forces and other related agencies to prepare in advance for the logistical and security challenges for conducting simultaneous polls.
Despite logistical challenges, protests of various fringe groups, technical challenges and a huge task ahead of the Election Commission of India, the concept of holding simultaneous polls is a very good idea, which has to be supported by all Political parties, as ultimately it is the taxpayer who will bear the brunt of holding frequent polls. With the use of technology, skilled personnel, paramilitary personnel, ‘One Nation, One Election’ is indeed a blessing for the nation.
(Writer was a senior executive in HAL, BEML and currently heading the Intellectual Cell of BJP – Karnataka, views expressed are personal)