One nation, one election

By Nagaland Post | Publish Date: 8/24/2018 10:02:07 AM IST

 After all that had been floated and suggested with regard to holding of simultaneous polls to both the state assemblies and parliament, the chief election commissioner O.P.Rawat had on Thursday made it categorically clear, that there was no such possibility anytime soon. This means that the possibility could only arise if there is a constitutional amendment to the election law in future. Rawat also said a legal framework is needed to be in place for holding simultaneous polls. “The lawmakers will take at least a year to frame a law that can be enforceable. This process takes time. As soon as the Bill to amend the Constitution is ready, we (the Election Commission) will know that things are now moving),” Rawat said. There has been some speculation in the recent weeks that Assembly polls in Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan and Mizoram due this year end may be deferred and held simultaneously along with the Lok Sabha elections, scheduled for April-May 2019. While the term of the Mizoram Assembly ends on December 15, the terms of Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan assemblies will end on January 5, January 7 and January 20, 2019, respectively. “Koi chance nahi” (no chance at all), Rawat told a select media meet in Aurangabad when asked if it was feasible to hold simultaneous Lok Sabha and state Assembly elections in the near future. This issue of holding simultaneous polls is not a new proposal. It has been talked about in the past but the Modi government has been seriously considering the proposal. Simultaneous elections to the state assemblies and parliament used to be held till the late 60s but after political instabilities, the cycle was broken. According to observers, frequent elections hamper long-term policymaking besides being cumbersome and expensive. Political parties were divided on the issue of holding simultaneous Lok Sabha and Assembly elections during consultations with the Law Commission of India. As many as nine parties expressed their reservations while four parties supported the move. Had the Modi government worked on the proposal by 2014 or 2015 then there would have been enough time to set the framework. It would need some changes in the election laws which only parliament can enact. The reason given in the past was that if states were occupied with assembly elections, Zilla Parishad elections, Panchayat elections, or municipal elections almost every year, then there would be no time for focussing on development. It was felt that a system was needed to enforce simultaneous elections in which the legislative process to unseat a government by legislators would have to be put in place by means of a “constructive no-confidence” This means that no opposition party would be able to table a no-confidence motion unless it has the capacity to also simultaneously form a new government. The fundamental instrument of the no-confidence motion would thus be effectively taken away and ensure some forced stability. According to some analysts the “one nation, one election” will only serve the interests of those who want to solidify centralisation of an already overly centralized union. If implemented such a plan will do a grave disservice to the federal character of India as envisaged by the founders and therefore, a bad idea which should be rejected.

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