In the past few weeks, the topic of simultaneous elections for the Centre and the States is being discussed not only by the Central Government but also in the print media and in the TV discussions. The ruling party has used the following arguments in favour of its idea:
- It is a known fact that a general election costs the exchequer a whopping Rs.50,000 crore. If the State elections are held separately, it would add another Rs.50,000 plus crore of revenue expenditure. This huge amount could be saved and used for development purposes.
- Once a Prime Minister or a Chief Minister is elected, he/she should continue for the next five years even if he is ruling a minority Government. In the past, in the Centre and at State levels, minority Governments have run successively.
- This will also save a lot of expenditure to the contesting parties as they do not have to canvass twice every five years. In addition, there would be no ‘horse trading’ or ‘resort politics’ or defection as there would be no floor test every other day. It would, hopefully, bring more honesty and transparency among the elected representatives.
- It is not unconstitutional as simultaneous elections were held during the first two terms (1952 and 1957) after independence.
- It is true that the simultaneous elections would require two sets EVMs. However, the cost is only Rs.5,000 crore and this is a one-time capital expenditure.
As against this, the Opposition parties have objected to this idea, giving the following reasons:
- The simultaneous election will selectively favour the ruling party present at the Centre. (Do the Opposition parties believe that the present ruling party is ‘Shashwata’ at the Centre? Have they given up the desire of ruling the country in the near future?)
- The cost of Rs.50,000 crore is for a legitimate purpose for adhering to a democratic process. This argument does not hold any sense.
- A supremo of a national party which is now actually a regional party and who is an ex-PM believes that the country’s citizens are not mature enough for a single voting system! With 3,000 years of civilisation and 72 years of independence if we are not mature enough now, I don’t know when will we become mature?
Swaminathan Aiyar, a noted journalist has suggested ‘One nation two elections’ meaning, the State elections of all States should be held at half-way stage of Central election. This would be a referendum on Central Government’s governance. This idea does not hold water because the citizens elect a Government for a five-year term and in theory and practice, a mini referendum takes place every time a bill is passed or rejected.
I do hope that the Opposition parties see the value of simultaneous election and support the scheme wholeheartedly. Also, I suggest that we start the cycle from February 2024 and continue the cycle from then. This date will lengthen the period of some State Assemblies but it is only a one-time phenomena.
– U.B. Acharya, Jayalakshmipuram, 3.7.2019
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