The larger project of subverting the idea of India

Source: The post is based on the article “The larger project of subverting the idea of Indiapublished in The Hindu on 11th September 2023.

Syllabus: GS 2 – Governance – Government Policies and Interventions for Development in various sectors and Issues arising out of their Design and Implementation.

Relevance: concerns with holding simultaneous elections for the Lok Sabha and State Assemblies.

News: The article discusses why the idea of holding simultaneous elections for the Lok Sabha and State Assemblies may not be a favorable choice.

What are the reasons that make holding simultaneous elections for the Lok Sabha and State Assemblies unwise?

Centralizations of Power: The proposal to hold simultaneous elections is under the concept of “One India” decisions of the government.

However, conducting simultaneous elections will further centralize power, strengthen the hold of national parties, and reduce the importance of regional parties.

Don’t Impose High Costs and Obstruct Governance: The idea of simultaneous polls is being promoted as a cost-saving and governance-friendly measure.

However, critics argue that election costs are overestimated, and the Model Code of Conduct doesn’t hamper governance. Instead, governance suffers when the ruling national party seeks to win every state election by focusing on state issues.

As Y.V. Reddy (the chairman of the Fourteenth Finance Commission) pointed out, elections are meant to hold governments accountable, and if they are too frequent, this can help to improve governance.

Lower Voter Turnout: Supporters of simultaneous elections relies on a study showing lower voter turnout when Assembly and Lok Sabha elections are held separately. However, this argument is only a justification rather than reality.

While increasing voter participation is important, it should be pursued through alternative means rather than disrupting the constitutional order.

Constitutional Changes: Implementing permanent simultaneous elections will require substantial constitutional changes, such as fixed-term governments, abolishing no-confidence motions, requiring “super-majorities” to unseat governments, enhancing President/Governors’ powers, or a mix of these measures.

These changes would fundamentally alter the Constitution’s Basic Structure, weaken State governments, erode federalism, and centralize power.

Read More: One Nation One Election – Explained

What is the way ahead?

“One Nation, One Election” is primarily a political and ideological push to replace India’s diversity with homogeneity.

It further goes beyond initiatives like “One Nation, One Tax” and “One Nation, One Ration Card,” aiming to centralize power in the Union Government.

Therefore, ultimately, the choice to embrace this “One India” vision rests with the electorate.

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