Friday 27 May 2022
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Electing All At Once

[dropcap]I[/dropcap]ndia’s chief political executive wishes, on the one hand, to meet the demands of his core constituency and, on the other, does not wish to impose them on those who did not vote for him in 2004, with the right that he is, after all, the Prime Minister of the whole country, not merely of his supporters. Ergo, after provoking a debate on cleanliness in 2014, the Indian bias for sons in 2015 and triple talaq (and a uniform civil code by extension) in 2016, Narendra Modi has called for a nationwide debate on the idea of holding simultaneous Lok Sabha and Vidhan Sabha elections at the end of this year to keep us arguing throughout 2017. For long, decision-making by governments of the country has been held hostage to populism that polling seasons push political parties into. This is over and above the humongous cost of logistics and security involved in conducting this gigantic operation every few months in some or the other province, which is not a compulsion of the Election Commission that has clarified it is capable of conducting the massive exercise all at once. While it is argued that the frequency of polls is a measure to ensure that a government, once elected, does not take the electorate for granted for five long years, all that this recurring fever has ended up creating is an economic and ethical nightmare where one party vies with another to woo the people through freebies, which is bribing them with their own money. They get away with murder as the level of economic education in society is pathetic. This is also a big handicap that debaters will be confronted with while engaging the audience over the topic Modi wants them to dwell upon — years after BJP patriarch LK Advani wanted it.

Regional parties tend to think that concurrent polls give their national counterparts an undue advantage. Over the decades, they have groomed their respective balloters to believe that the various regions in India would get a raw deal in the bargain, as a distant government in New Delhi would deliberate upon their matters without adequate knowledge of their local needs. This means that, to begin with, the debate must involve an elaborate introduction to the NITI-era federalism that was unknown in the age of the Planning Commission. The powers are so delegated today that the Centre riding roughshod over the States is near impossible, in terms of either the revenue shares the two entities get or the authority to use the allocations.

Holding the polls together would also mean less vote-banking, as the insecurities of communities work less effectively in the electoral arena that is spread out, but this is all the more reason for the scare-mongering parties to oppose the move tooth and nail. If the BJP wishes to win this debate, which the Congress, now reduced to a sporadic existence in the electoral map of the country, must wish to win, too, a massive intellectual force in both the mainstream and social media will be required. They ought to be backed by on-field party workers. Effective demagogues and polemicists are but born in organised workshops, which all parties except communists lack. The RSS shakhas cannot match Marxist indoctrination. Winning this debate would warrant the descent of a team of modern-era cost-benefit analysts from their ivory towers; it is the reluctance of this class to shun its comforts that has given crooked a walkover in politics. Both reducing costs and ensuring unhindered are unexceptionable. The nation needs a critical of communicators who can make all stakeholders get this sense. Modi should first make this team.

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  1. This simultaneous polling apparently may be a cost saving affair but considering multi party coalition based politics this may not be viable.All the state govts have different life cycle depending on their start date as wel as based on dynamics of state politics.It is almost impossible to synchronis these.then there shall be gross deviation of basic govt formation of states.Further if elections are held at the same time, the state affairs may influence Lok Sabha elections which is unwarranted.The NDA got 73 out of 80 seats in Lok Sabha in UP but struggling to get a majority, leave alone 350 plus seats which is imminent by translating LS victory to assembly.So if these were held together, NDA could have missed majority had they got 40-45 seats from UP.The LS vote instead should be separated and not tied with any state assembly vote.

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