India is a land of 29 states and seven union territories and believes in the federal structure of governance. We the people take great pride in our vibrant and throbbing democracy and we celebrate elections like a festival. But, the Indian Republic is always in an election mode from assembly to Lok Sabha to municipal to panchayat and it’s a never-ending cycle. India’s 14th Prime Minister Narendra Damodardas Modi is a very ambitious and hardworking individual. The chief executive of our country wants that India should have simultaneous polls i.e. Lok Sabha and assembly polls should be held together to save money, time and resources and this theme has now become his new jumla and is wanting to have a discussion about it in the public forum.
On the face of it, the idea seems noble and makes a lot of sense. India every six months has an election and every political party is busy fighting elections rather than focusing on the core issue of governance. The money which gets spend is humongous and not to forget the deployment of police forces, election officials and for one month of campaigning governance takes a backseat and the atmosphere gets vitiated and polarised. We all want India to become fastest growing economy but with elections happening way too often our priorities are not right and there is no unity between center and state. Simultaneous polls could solve this problem and the functioning of government would get so much better with ‘One nation, One poll’ and all political parties should sit down and have a serious debate about this issue.
To play devil’s advocate, simultaneous polls also have quite a few demerit points and the first disadvantage could be the attack on state’s federal structure and independence and we could end up with managed or rigged democracy. Indian voter while voting for general elections has national issues in his mind whereas while voting in an assembly or municipal polls regional and local issues take over that’s why we don’t have single party ruling in all the states. If we somewhat apply the simultaneous poll formula then national political parties like Congress and BJP benefit greatly from it and the very existence of regional parries could become extinct and voter might choose the same party (BJP or Congress) for centre as well as state and could get carried away with a wave or strong change in government. Another problem could be what if a government collapses before completing its term then will there will be President’s rule or new elections will be held? The beauty of our democracy is the dissent and debate and if we have one party rule than we are no different from China or Saudi Arabia.
PM Narendra Modi knows that his government is finishing its term and has very little to show as far as his development record and just to digress and divert the attention from core issues wants a debate on simultaneous polls. PM Modi is right when he says that India can’t be held ransom to elections every six months but to have elections happening at the same time constitution amendments must take place and the very nature of our political discourse will have to go through a massive shift.
At the moment very few states will vote with the general elections in 2019, but we could have elections which are happening six months before or six months after the Lok Sabha polls could be clubbed together to try out this new idea. The ruling dispensation is clearly getting nervous and shaky ahead of its big test and should rather focus on delivery and not on vague issues.
India is a difficult country to govern and simultaneous polls could very well help India’s polity but with too many problems it is just not feasible and India’s electorate can’t be forced to vote for one party irrespective of any poll and the sanctity of elections should remain. Unless and until we get a consensus from all political entities simultaneous polls is a strict no and BJP should invest its energy on jobs, development, health care, infrastructure, better livelihood and not fool people all the time with its rhetoric and propaganda and we all know what happened with demonetisation and GST and India is not ready for another monumental disaster. Simultaneous polls is a very good concept but it can’t happen in a vast state like India without proper safeguards and democracy cannot be taken for a ride by our beloved PM Modiji.