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16th March 2024 (14 Topics)

With One Nation One Election, getting India back in sync


The issue of simultaneous elections in India has gained prominence with the submission of a report by the High-Level Committee on Simultaneous Elections to the President of India, recommending the synchronization of parliamentary and state legislative assembly elections.

1. Historical Context and Disruption:

  • Historical Precedence: Elections to both the Lok Sabha and state legislative assemblies were conducted simultaneously from 1952 to 1967, ensuring a synchronized electoral cycle.
  • Disruption and Desynchronisation: The desynchronisation of elections occurred due to frequent dismissals of state governments using Article 356 of the Constitution, disrupting the electoral cycle and leading to prolonged periods of instability.
  • Judicial Intervention and Stability: The SC judgment in the S R Bommai case (1994) curtailed the arbitrary use of Article 356, promoting stability and adherence to constitutional norms.

2. Advantages and Concerns of Simultaneous Elections:

  • Administrative Efficiency: Holding simultaneous elections offers benefits such as significant cost savings, optimal utilization of manpower, and reduced disruption to public life, fostering long-term governance and developmental programs.
  • Voter Dilution Concerns: Critics argue that simultaneous elections may blur the distinction between national and local issues, potentially diluting voter interests and affecting electoral outcomes.
  • Voter Discernment and Examples: However, examples from past election cycles, such as in Odisha and Delhi, demonstrate that voters can distinguish between national and local issues, indicating the maturity of the electorate in weighing their interests.

3. Operational Challenges and Way Forward:

  • Phased Implementation: Operationalizing simultaneous elections may require a phased approach, including curtailment or extension of state assembly tenures to align with the synchronized electoral cycle.
  • Maintenance of Synchronicity: To maintain synchronicity, elections to the Lok Sabha and state legislative assemblies should be held simultaneously, with any premature dissolution resulting in elections for the remainder of the term.
  • Practical Constraints: Combining local body elections with parliamentary and state elections may not be feasible due to the diverse legal frameworks and logistical challenges, with the responsibility for local elections lying with state election commissions.
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