“Social progress can be measured by the social position of the female sex” - Karl Marx


Decoding One Nation One Poll

The Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, on being elected a second time with thumping majority, has identified One Nation One Poll or simultaneous elections for the nation and the states as his first priority and has called for an all party meeting. As earlier, PM Narendra Modi has again raised his voice, arguing that frequent elections "impede governance and development", result in a drag on public exchequer and gives rise to "election fatigue" that is harmful for democracy.


The Law Commission before the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, in its draft report, had backed 'one nation, one poll' as an antidote to keeping the country perennially in election mode. Such an exercise would, it said, save public money, help reduce the burden on the administrative setup and security forces and ensure better implementation of government policies. It also noted that to legitimise the switch-back to the 1952 conduct of simultaneous polls, Article 172 of the Constitution needs to be amended.

The Commission's analysis points to the fact that there is a feasibility to restore simultaneous elections as it existed during the first two decades of India's independence. This practice got disrupted due to the premature dissolution of some State Legislative Assemblies in 1968. Lok Sabha itself dissolved prematurely in 1970.


Article 172 in the Indian Constitution about the duration of State Legislatures states, "Every Legislative Assembly of every State, unless sooner dissolved, shall continue for five years from the date appointed for its first meeting...." However, to hold elections to these Assemblies along with the Lok Sabha election, amendment of Article 172 of the Constitution as well as of Section 14 of the Representation of People Act, 1951, will become necessary. Under the proviso to Section 14 of the RP Act, 1951, the process of election should be completed before the expiry of the term of the Assembly. Only in case of premature dissolution of the House, a window of six months is available for the Election Commission to conduct the elections. Simultaneous poll would be possible only after these constitutional provisions are amended.

Now, amending Article 172 in the light of the latest recommendations of the Law Commission is a possibility, however, it is a long drawn process which will require efforts. The amendment will require the passing of a requisite bill in the Parliament, by the ruling party, followed by the same bill (paving way for simultaneous polls for Lok Sabha and all state Assemblies) passed in more than half of the states (as BJP controls directly or with partners as many as 18 states today out of 30 State and Union Territory Assemblies), and finally ratified by the President of India.


Going beyond the ruling party's political expediency, free and fair elections are integral to democracy. Continuity, consistency and governance are also integral to democracy. And democracy also implies good governance. To achieve these, elections are held. But if the means (elections) become the goal, this will not serve democracy well. Holding simultaneous elections will ensure consistency, continuity and governance, and elections then will only be the means to achieve this and not an end in themselves.

Advocates of simultaneous polls say that the perpetual electoral season has made it impossible for leaders to pursue economic policies that bring long-term rewards when an anti-reform posture appears electorally more beneficial. A laser focus on winning elections means that leaders take shortcuts, and the focus lies on redistribution of wealth through welfare schemes (or even bribery).

One nation, one poll supporters believe that electoral compulsions have led leaders to implement reforms either by stealth or compulsion. For instance, former prime minister PV Narasimha Rao tried his best to hide his reform credentials throughout the tenure of his premiership. This paradox can be fixed if elections are spaced out. Leaders will find it relatively easier to take seemingly unpopular decisions if no electoral test lies on the horizon.

For instance, the Modi government took a bunch of measures to aid ease of doing business and tried to reform labour laws as soon as it was elected in 2014, but its pace slowed down to a halt two years later when it realised that worker discontent and anger could work against it in elections. Though such reforms are not in popular interest, the current Modi government, empowered with a dominant mandate, would want such reforms to go through in its class interests. Hence, there is a renewed quest for simultaneous polls immediately on getting elected a second time.

Further, the cost of an election has two components - one, expenditure incurred by the Election Commission of India and two, expenditure incurred by the political parties. A large number of government employees and public buildings are diverted from their regular responsibilities for election duties. There are undoubted benefits in conducting national and state elections together. It would reduce the significant amount of time conducting elections in terms of the use of paramilitary forces, government staff on election duty, organising booths, EC staff, voter slips, and electronic voting machines. The imposition of the Model Code of Conduct every time an election is scheduled delays the implementation of central and state government welfare schemes and infrastructure projects and takes away time and effort from governance issues.

During elections, political convenience takes precedence over public interest. To lure voters, political parties concede to popular demands without any consideration to public interest. Simultaneous elections reduce such opportunity for political parties.


At the end of the last two-day consultation on simultaneous polls conducted by the Law Commission, before the general elections, besides the NDA ally Shiromani Akali Dal, the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, the Samajwadi Party and the Telangana Rashtra Samiti supported the idea. Initially, Congress and BJP both remained silent, later BJP supported. And nine other parties, including Trinamool Congress, the Left Parties, Nationalist Congress Party, Aam Aadmi Party, Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, Telugu Desam Party, and Janata Dal (Secular) opposed the concept.

DMK working president MK Salin has opposed the move and his objections were two-fold. One, various aspects of this proposal tampered with the basic structure of the Indian Constitution, which the Supreme Court in previous governments has strictly forbidden. Two, such a move would threaten federalism in addressing the question of when and how the Parliament or the various state Legislative Assembles would be dissolved.

AAP also dubbed the idea as a move to impose "managed democracy" in the country. Simultaneous polls are taking away the people's right to self-correction because often we have seen in this country that people vote differently in Parliament elections and six months down the line, people vote differently in a state election. JD(S) representative told the law panel that the idea is against federal democracy. Communist Party of India (Marxist) General Secretary Sitaram Yechury had written to the panel, listing the party's objections to the proposal stating that it goes beyond the ambit of law reform entailing major amendments to Constitution, and would run against both the "letter and spirit of our Constitution".

Centre and states are equal and sovereign within their jurisdiction. Simultaneous elections may reduce the importance of state elections. Thus, it affects the concept of federalism. Simultaneous elections will relegate local issues or issues of state importance to the background. This completely ignores the diversity of the country. Frequent elections enhance political accountability. It keeps politicians on their toe. Local issues, state issues, and national issues do not get mixed up.

Studies show that simultaneous elections will have a significant impact on voter's behaviour. An analysis by IDFC Institute shows that on average, there is a 77% chance that the Indian voter will vote for the same party for both the states and Centre when elections are held simultaneously. In such cases, the national issues and national parties take precedence over issues of state importance and small regional parties.

A government can be in power as long as it enjoys the confidence of Parliament. Simultaneous elections can work only if governments last for a fixed tenure of five years regardless of confidence of Parliament. It negates the concept of 'no confidence motion' - an important tool for legislative control over the executive.

Besides, there is a practical difficulty. Suppose simultaneous elections are held but the government loses its majority in the Lok Sabha, as Atal Bihari Vajpayee did within 13 days in power, will there be new set of elections in all the 29 States too, even if they have an absolute majority? Why should the states suffer for the electoral decisions taken at the Centre?

Many critics of simultaneous elections say that conducting national and state elections together could help one political party create a 'wave' by an aggressive and well-organised campaign to persuade the electorate to vote for the same party, and capture power at the states and the Centre. Also the use of social media today may make it possible for parties to reach out to voters in remote areas without holding rallies.


For it to be feasible, a political consensus is required, which is not easy to achieve. There has to be a political willingness to discuss this issue before a consensus. And parties need to understand the benefits of restricting huge expenses behind elections. The most critical factor to be considered is, whether simultaneous elections impact the voter behaviour in a way that influences electoral outcomes at the Union and at the state levels? The available evidence is indicative of possible advantage for national parties over regional parties in simultaneous polls. If that is the case, the federal democratic structure of the Indian polity could be harmed.


  • The Taj That is India
  • The BJP and Triple Talaq
  • Rohingya: A People Condemned!
  • 9 Key Qs Raised on First Day of Aadhaar Hearing in the Supreme Court
  • A Critical Analysis of Delhi's Human Development Index
  • 3 Army Divisions For 300 Terrorists In JK But No End to Violence: Certainly the Answer Does Not Lie in Force
  • 'It is Not the Left But the Congress That's the B-Team of the BJP'
  • Kasganj: A Story of People's Unity Fractured by Engineered Hate and Violence
  • Invisible Children Of Delhi
  • India 81 in Corruption Index, Amongst the "Worst Offenders"
  • Economists Hit Out Against Move to Privatise Public Sectors Banks
  • Tripura Trades Decency For False Eldorado
  • Syria's Bloody War
  • Pakistan And China Fill Space In Maldives Willfully Vacated By India
  • The Big Private Crop Insurance Scam: Farmers Par Premium of Rs 482, Receive Rs 5 as Insurance!
  • US Attack on Syria Violates International Law, Total Hypocrisy
  • Death Penalty Is Not The Answer To Sexual Violence: Implement Justice Verma Committee Report
  • Walls on Every Side: Trying to Get Data in India
  • The Ascent of Multi-Politics In Malaysia
  • Why the Objections to Marxism are Mistaken
  • The Rise and Fall of the Malaysian Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim
  • BDS Has Placed Israel on Notice
  • Can We Promote Peace in India, Today?
  • Burying The Two-State Solution
  • Corruption And Class Rule
  • Is Ethnic Cleansing Coming to India
  • Our Real Heroes
  • Confronting Journalism's Misogynistic Trolls
  • After 17 Years of War, A Peace Movement Grows in Afghanistan
  • Taking Play Seriously: Time to Make Sports A Fundamental Right!
  • Law Commission Publishes Consultation Paper on Sedition
  • Foreign Policy: Between Folly and Foibles
  • Suu Kyi's Continued Denial And Bangladesh's
  • Economy Crumbles as Fuel Prices Skyrocket, Household Budgets Hit
  • Rupee's New Low: A Dangerous Drift
  • Are We Still Ruled by The British?
  • From Anti-National to Urban Naxal: The Trajectory of Dissent in India
  • Learning the Power of Lies: Facts vs. Falsehoods in the Age of Trump
  • The Indian Economy is in a Tailspin
  • China Walks a Tightrope on The Uighur Muslim Issue
  • Is Ram Mandir a Mere Election Strategy of the BJP?
  • The Harsher Counters of India's Drug Legislations
  • BJP's Election Strategy: Data is the New Opium
  • Geographical Indication - India's Untapped Resource
  • Climate Change to Make Prediction of Furious Storms More Difficult
  • Mountain echoes for India
  • Maldives: Has the Wheel Turned Full Circle?
  • President Sirisena Needs to be Reached Sooner Rather Than Later
  • Plastic Pollution in India
  • Prejudice by Any Name
  • 29 Years After Fall of Berlin Wall, Europe Has 1,000 Km of Walls to Stop Migrants
  • The Leftover Women of Afghanistan
  • Harmony of Music and Politics of Silencing
  • The Economics of Policy: Prohibition and Free Water Supply
  • Threat to Democracy in the Age of Social or Anti-Social Media
  • Intellectual Property- A Vital Discipline
  • What Happened in Britain, and What's Next
  • Assembly Debacle: BJP Got Taken in by Its Own Fake News
  • India: Secular Democracy or Hindu Rashtra
  • Adani is Byword for Government's Climate Inaction as Australia Gears for Elections
  • How The Modi Government is Killing Off MGNREGS
  • The Year of the Gazan
  • Assembly Polls: Ten Crucial Takeaways Ahead of 2019
  • The Real Effects of Fake Propaganda on Migrants
  • Why NGOs in Pakistan Are at The Brink of Extinction
  • Dogged by Brexit
  • In My Own Voice: Citizenship Amendment Bill And You
  • Oil Giant Shell Finally Faces Its Day In Court For Complicity In Rapes And Murders in Nigeria
  • The Geopolitics of Pulwama
  • Shah Faesal Cuts Through Calls for Blood and Lays Out a Roadmap for Kashmir
  • Modi's ABC: Avoiding, Burying, Confusing
  • The Kashmir Question: A 'Made in India' Problem
  • Opposition Must Take a Stand Against the War Politics of Hindutva
  • 'Patriotism' Made Easy in Times of 'WhatsApp Elections'
  • Urban Poor Have Set Agenda for 2019 Elections
  • Will the US End Up Putting Sanctions on Every Country That Doesn't Bend to its Will?
  • Minority and Indigenous Women Human Rights Activists More Prone to Harassment UN Report
  • Tribute to Speaker Rabi Ray (1926-2017)
  • International Participation is Necessary Where State is Part of The Problem
  • Italy Takes Belt and Road to The Heart of Europe
  • The Legacy of Shaheed-e-Azam
  • In My Own Voice: Heroes or Hiroshima
  • The Modi Years
  • Election in Israel: A Race to the Bottom
  • Why Bangladesh Overtook Pakistan
  • Digital Monopoly Platforms, Modi Regime and Threat to Our Democracy
  • Elitism and Development
  • Jawaharlal Nehru and Organised Religion
  • A Brief History of the IUML and Kerla's Muslims
  • The Immunisation of Human Rights
  • How Can India Win The Struggle on Poverty?
  • The RSS's Chanakya Neeti
  • Diversity, Belonging and Multiculturalism
  • The Chinese Ambition
  • The Role City Govts Can Play in the Health of Citizens
  • Dr. Saifuddin Kitchlew: Forgotten Warrior of Our Freedom Movement
  • Fighting Climate Change, Building Resilience
  • Mridula Sarabhai(the orignal anti-national)
  • Right to Education: A Dream Half Forgotten
  • Decoding One Nation One Poll
  • Tunisia Heads for Polls Amidst Economic Slowdown, Squsbbling and Crack Down on Islamic Extremist
  • Lynchings, Litchis and No Water: What the International Media is Saying Abount India
  • Blood in the Nile
  • Will the BNP Ever Again be a Major Political Force in Bangladesh?
  • 'Real Estate Brokers' Cannot Dampen The Palestinian Spirit
  • The Indian Liberal's Conundrum
  • Hope For Democracy in Sudan
  • In Depth: Water Crisis Looming Across Tamil Nadu
  • Missing Secularism in New Education Policy
  • Religion, Nationalism And Insurgency in Balochistan
  • Dim Lights, Closed Blinds: History Lessons From a Party in Power
  • Loan Waivers Need Better Designing to Prevent Farmer Suicides
  • Makimg Best Use of Sri Lanka's Strategic Location
  • FDI in Coal: Look Who's Coming to the Party
  • Weapons and the Never Ending Space Race
  • Thirty Years the Berlin Wall Brought Down
  • Reclaiming the Opposition and Political Space in India
  • An Interreligious Conference to Build Bridges in Sri Lanka
  • On 'Correcting' History and Akbar's Invasion of Kashmir
  • The Evolution of the 'Nobel Prize' in Economics
  • Close Coordination Between Turkey and Russia in Syria
  • Sri Lanka's Election Time Promises Costly to Keep
  • The India Economy and The Cobra Effect
  • Fascism: Is Liberal Use "Trivialising" This "Destructive Phenomenon?"
  • Treating the Poor as Development Guinea Pigs
  • A Not sp 'National Education Policy: Analysis Reveals Exclusion in Education Sector
  • University Fee Hikes Pave the Way for Selling Public Assets
  • The Truth About Middle Class 'Revolutions?
  • 50 Years of US Arms Trade: The Lasting Impact on West Asia
  • India Abjures Secularism in Bangladesh's View, Will Regional Cooperation Take a Hit?
  • Amidist Resistance to "De-Tribalisation", A Look at Why Jharkhand Polls are More Critical Than They Appear
  • The Dangerous Game of Citizenship: BJP Creates Divisive Agenda Through NRC
  • Revealed: US Losing Aghan War Due to "Fatally Flawed" War Strategies and Lack of Clear Objetives
  • 'Politics and Prejudice': Can Dalit-Bahujans and left Progressives Join Hands?
  • State Power's Attempts at Rewriting History
  • Afghanista's Tumultous Fourty-Year Journey
  • Nepal: Citizen's Needs Remain Sidelined as Turbulent Game of Politics Continues
  • "Enough is Enough": Secular India Revolts Against a " Majoritarian State"
  • Looking at Cuba's Revolution 61 Years On
  • Soleimani Murder Set to Spiral Out of Control, US Expected to Pressure India Under LEMOA
  • The Rise of Digital Media and The Viral Phenomenon of "Nowledge"
  • Thus Spake JP: Beware the Writing on the Wall
  • Sri Lankan Government Must Pay Attention to Problem-Solving in the North
  • Drowning Nation Clutches at Military Might?
  • India's Neighbourhood First Policy Crumbles
  • A Gobal Assault by the Far-Right
  • Delhi Riots: Historical Patterns, Complicity of Forces Point to Planned Violence
  • Behind The Protests Defending Public Education
  • Putting The Judiciary on Trial
  • "Sanctions Are a Crime": During Coronavirus Pandemic, Sanctions Against Iran, Venezuela Causing Medical Shortages
  • Social Messiahs or Smart Entrepreneurs?
  • Justice Gogoi Joining Rajya Sabha Points to a Constitutional Crisis
  • A Russian "Plays Long Game" Firewall for Venezuela Against US Sanctions
  • RSS and the Question of Morality
  • Establishing COVID-19 Hospitals in Record Time
  • A New "Medical Internationalism" Needed: Cuba At the Pandemic Frontlines Even As Wealthy States Neglect Healthcare
  • Why They Suffer: The Human/Animal Conflict
  • More Books and Snowy Mornings
  • Statesmanship Required to Avert Constitutinal Crisis in Sri Lanka
  • Combating 'Hate Virus': Communal Forces Divide in times of Global Pandemin
  • How Biometric Authentication Has Excluded MAny From The Public Distribution System
  • Lessons From Iraq: Before Trump Sues China, US Must pay for Unjust War on Iraq
  • The American War System And The Global 'War of Error'
  • Demilitarising Patriotism in The Covid Fight
  • Muslims Need a Fair Media
  • Sri-Lanka: Shock of Covid-19 Wanes, Nationalist Sentiments Rise as Elections Approach
  • Covid-19 in Brazil: A 21st Century 'Reenactment' of the 19th Century Yellow Fever?
  • Iran's Fuel Tankers for Venezuela Sail to Safety Under 'Chinese Shield'
  • US Protests Bear Lessons For Sri Lanka
  • India and Nepal in For A Prolonged Standoff?
  • The Fifth Schedule: Tribal Advisory Councils and International Perspectives
  • The Asian American Response to Pandemic-Era Racism Must Be Cross-Racial Solidarity
  • Is Police Brutality Exclusive to the USA?
  • Libya's Future Seema to Rest on Arrangements Between Russia And Turkey
  • China's strategic Mind And Method: "Long-Term Planning" Behind Country's Geo-Political Moves
  • Returning Migrants: A Boon For Rural Industrialisation?
  • Why Refugees in Greece Are Afraid of the Word 'Camp'''
  • Black Lives Matter Movement And Its Lessons For India
  • US Provocations Trigger Tension in Sino-American Relations