The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which has given a renewed call for ‘One Nation, One Election’ call, has now mooted holding elections to local/urban bodies, assembly and the Lok Sabha together, saying good governance, and not holding polls, should be the objective of democracy. The party has proposed changes to the Constitution for setting fixed terms for legislative assemblies and the Lok Sabha.
Addressing a webinar on ‘One Nation One Election’, BJP General Secretary Bhupender Yadav said that a Bill to this effect can be brought only after all political parties reach a consensus, adding that a parliamentary panel, comprising representatives of all parties, had recommended simultaneous elections. The webinar, part of the BJP’s newly launched campaign for uniform polls, was attended by Dr Naresh Trehan, Chairman and MD of Medanta The Medicity and playback singer Kailash Kher, who also launched an anthem for the campaign.
Spoke at webinar on #OneNationOneElection hosted by Sh @sambitswaraj in the presence of cardiac surgeon Dr Naresh Trehan ji & singer Shri @Kailashkher ji. The idea of one election will strengthen governance by not keeping govts perennially engaged in polls. Let’s work towards it. pic.twitter.com/Kph0YztR1D
— Bhupender Yadav (@byadavbjp) December 30, 2020
Claiming frequent elections have created hurdles in the way of good governance, Yadav said, “Election is just a means in democracy, but repeated elections show that it has become the objective of a democracy. Governance lags behind.”
Yadav said if the concept is implemented, the electorate can go to polling booths once in five years and vote for their representatives in the local/urban bodies, Assembly and the Lok Sabha at one go. Batting for a fixed term for the Assembly and the Lok Sabha, he said if a government loses the confidence of either of the two Houses, it could elect a new government for the remainder of the term. “That way, governance will be the main agenda and all these elected bodies can work together for five years without bothering about election expenses and the model code of conduct,” Yadav said.
Although the BJP leaders have been talking up an idea, which was first mooted in 1983 and revived by Prime Minister Narendra Modi after he won the 2014 general elections, this is the first time that the BJP has proposed holding all elections together. Initially, the idea was to hold only the Assembly and Lok Sabha elections simultaneously. The idea of simultaneous elections was originally put forward by the Election Commission itself in 1983. In its 170th report in May 1999, the Law Commission, headed by Justice BP Jeevan Reddy, said “we must go back to the situation where the elections to Lok Sabha and all the Legislative Assemblies are held at once”.
Countering the argument that such a process could give leverage to national parties or parties with strong leaders, the BJP general secretary pointed out that states such as Odisha voted simultaneously, but differently for the Assembly and the Lower House. “The participatory democracy has become strong enough in our country for a voter to differentiate between them (elections),” he said, adding that there can be a balance between national ambition and regional aspiration.
The BJP has also put forward the argument that simultaneous elections would help curb electoral expenses and ensure that the country is not in “election-mode” throughout the year. Yadav further argued that there would be level playing field for all parties, as the smaller ones are often at pains to meet the expenses of frequent polls.
BJP national spokesperson Sambit Patra, who hosted the webinar, said the Niti Ayog had submitted a 36-page letter, recommending the same.
Articulating his views on the subject, Trehan said simultaneous elections would also spare the armed forces for the protection of the citizens and frontiers for five years without interruption.