narendra-modi-pitches-for-one-nation-one-election-summary

Context: Prime Minister again raised the pitch for “One Nation, One Election” and a single voter list for all polls in order to prevent the impact of the model code of conduct on development works every few months due to frequent spread-out polls.

More on news:

  • Mr. Modi was addressing the concluding session of the 80th All India Presiding Officers Conference via videoconference. 
  • The Prime Minister also asked the presiding officers attending the meet to apply their mind to simplify the language of statute books and allow for an easier process to weed out redundant laws.

What are simultaneous polls?

  • Currently, elections to the state assemblies and the Lok Sabha are held separately. 
  • It means that is whenever the incumbent government’s five-year term ends or whenever it is dissolved due to various reasons. 
  • The terms of Legislative Assemblies and the Lok Sabha may not synchronise with one another. 
  • But the idea of “One Nation, One Election” envisages a system where elections to all states and the Lok Sabha will have to be held simultaneously. 
  • This will involve the restructuring of the Indian election cycle in a manner that elections to the states and the centre synchronise. 
  • This would mean that the voters will cast their vote for electing members of the LS and the state assemblies on a single day, at the same time (or in a phased manner as the case may be).

Background

  • Norm till 1967: Simultaneous elections were the norm until 1967. But following dissolution of some Legislative Assemblies in 1968 and 1969 and that of the Lok Sabha in December 1970, elections to State Assemblies and Parliament have been held separately.
  • The idea of reverting to simultaneous polls was mooted in the annual report of the Election Commission in 1983. The 1999 Law Commission’s Report also referred to it. 

Advantages:

  • Simultaneous polls will reduce enormous costs involved in separate elections.
  • The system will help ruling parties focus on governance instead of being constantly in election mode.
  • Simultaneous polls will boost voter turnout, according to the Law Commission.

Disadvantages:

  • National and state issues are different, and holding simultaneous elections is likely to affect the judgment of voters.
  • Since elections will be held once in five years, it will reduce the government's accountability to the people. 
  • When an election in a State is postponed until the synchronised phase, President’s rule will have to be imposed in the interim period in that state. This will hurt democracy and federalism.

Simultaneous polls, or 'one nation, one election', is possible only when political parties sit together and evolve consensus and bring about requisite amendments in law.

All India Presiding Officers Conference

  • The All India Presiding Officers Conference began in 1921.
  • The theme of this year's conference is ‘Harmonious Coordination between Legislature, Executive and Judiciary- Key to a Vibrant Democracy’.
  • The two-day conference has been organized by Lok Sabha to celebrate Constitution Day on November 26.