Context: The Indian government has formed a committee headed by former President Ram Nath Kovind to assess the practicality of holding simultaneous elections in the country. The committee consists of notable individuals including Union Home Minister Amit Shah and former Leader of Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad.
- The committee will investigate the idea of having simultaneous elections for State Assemblies and the Lok Sabha and provide suggestions for its implementation.
- The Law Ministry has given the committee seven tasks to investigate if constitutional amendments regarding simultaneous elections need state approval.
- The Indian Constitution can be changed through the process outlined in Article 368, as it was designed to be flexible and adaptable.
- Amendments can be made through three procedures: Simple Majority, Special Majority, and Ratification by States. Simple Majority involves a simple majority in each house of Parliament, while Special Majority requires a two-thirds majority in each house and a majority of the total membership.
About Simultaneous polls:
- Simultaneous polls, also referred to as “One Nation, One Election,” involve holding elections for both the Lok Sabha and state legislative assemblies in India simultaneously instead of at different times as currently done.
- Simultaneous polls have been a subject of debate in India for many years. The main purpose of this proposal is to decrease the frequency of elections, which can be costly and disrupt governance. This idea has become more popular recently as people believe that frequent elections cause policy inaction and higher spending.
- The Indian Constitution does not specifically state that elections should be held simultaneously. At present, elections for the Lok Sabha and state legislative assemblies are conducted separately and follow the regulations of the Representation of the People Act, 1951.
- Conducting elections can be costly due to expenses related to setting up polling stations, ensuring security, printing ballots, and raising voter awareness. However, the costs can be reduced by holding multiple elections at the same time, which would require fewer resources and less administrative effort.
- Having simultaneous elections allows government resources to be used more efficiently as employees and security forces can be involved in election-related duties for a shorter period of time.
- Simultaneous elections can help maintain political stability by preventing a constant focus on election strategies and allowing governments to concentrate on effective governance and policy making. This can avoid policy paralysis and other challenges caused by frequent elections.
- In countries with different levels of government, staggered election cycles can cause mid-term elections that disrupt politics. These elections are expensive and can lead to frequent changes in government. Simultaneous elections increase stability and allow elected officials to serve their full terms.
- Frequent elections can hinder the ability to make long-term plans and carry out policies. Elected officials may be reluctant to make difficult decisions that could affect their chances of getting re-elected.
- Simultaneous elections help make the administrative process more efficient by allowing government machinery to be used more effectively. This is because public servants do not have to constantly switch between election-related tasks and regular administrative work, resulting in more streamlined governance.
- In order to make decisions, it is important to have ongoing discussions with everyone involved. This allows for the sharing of ideas and concerns from different perspectives. It is crucial to reach a consensus in order to gain widespread support for any significant policy change.
- Having conversations and dialogue can result in changes to the constitution, particularly in regards to election timing and frequency, in many countries. These changes often require a supermajority or other specific conditions.
- Conducting pilot elections in certain states or regions can help determine if they are possible, address any difficulties, and gather useful information before implementing them on a larger scale.
Having simultaneous elections in India brings about both constitutional and practical difficulties, which means that the central government and states need to work together and carefully consider how to maintain a balance in the federal structure.
- Simultaneous election to the Lok Sabha and the State Assemblies will limit the amount of time and money spent in electioneering but it will reduce the government’s accountability to the people’ Discuss. (2017)