Simultaneous Elections in India: Is it a wise step?

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been repeatedly emphasizing on the conduction of simultaneous elections at both the levels, that is, Parliamentary elections and Elections to the State Legislative assemblies.

This used to prevail earlier. However, with different political situations arising in different states and also at the centre, the sync  was broken. Whether it is needed and feasible to conduct such elections and whether it is advantageous or not, let us understand in today’s article.

  • What is the need and advantages of conducting simultaneous elections?
    • Will reduce the election expenditure –>both of political parties and the exchequer.
    • Will reduce the discomfort to voters due to repeated elections.
    • will ensure greater voting at all the levels as the voters have to come out only once for casting their vote.
    • Imposition of Model Code of Conduct before the elections halts the necessary business of the governments. Greater the number of elections, greater will be such instances. Simultaneous elections would ensure smoother business at all levels.
    • The burden on the manpower involved in the elections at various levels would reduce.
    • Frequent impact on the delivery of essential services during elections could be checked.
    • Illicit practices that take place during each election process would reduce. With quick elections, the illicit practices surface frequently.
    • More the number of elections, greater are the instances of communalism, casteism which disrupts the India’s diverse culture.
    • Crony capitalism in the form of quid pro quo(we will give you money you give us favors in land, permissions etc.) persists as a parallel with each election. This would now at least reduce if not completely checked.
  • What are the challenges associated with conduction of simultaneous elections?
    • There have been frequent cases of instability at different tiers and levels it could become difficult to sustain.
    • President’s rule (Article 356 of the Indian Constitution) has had been invoked frequently due to political reasons which would disrupt the synchronization between the parliament and state legislatures.
    • Imposition of Emergency can increase the term of the parliament and thus, disturb the sync.
    • It would be a very mammoth exercise and thus, difficult to promulgate. Required quantity and competency of manpower is difficult to achieve.
  • What are the drawbacks of conducting simultaneous elections?
    • One party rule may prevail all over–>may undermine federalism and lead to a unitary system. According to analysts, there are around 77% chances that the voters would cast their vote for the same party in such cases.
      This trend of choosing the same party has gone from 68% in 1999 to 77% in 2004 to 76% in 2009 and 86% in 2014.
    • The opposition could be undermined –>there might be cases when a single party might enjoy a huge popular support–>Physcologically, this may lead to a one-sided support for the party at all levels. This might ,in turn, lead to the undermining of the opposition party or parties.
    • With frequent elections, the politicians are more accountable to the people as they have to ‘woo’ them again for votes. Now, they may not show up for a longer period of five years.
    • Frequent elections provide greater employment opportunities to a large number of people at quick intervals. Single elections could cut down these opportunities.
  • What could be the way ahead?
    • As per the recommendation of a Parliamentary Committee, in order to ensure feasibility of such a move ,the elections could be conducted in two phases: one during the mid of the Lok Sabha term and other at the end.
    • The committee also recommended that the assemblies whose term ends between 6 months to 1 year can be clubbed together for simultaneous elections at a pre-determined date.

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