Even as Prime Minister Narendra Modi was always the motivating force behind the idea of ‘One Nation, One Election’, it is for the first time at the political level a big push has been given for simultaneous polls with BJP chief Amit Shah formally writing to the Law Commission.
In his letter to the Law panel chairman Justice B S Chauhan, handed over by a party delegation, Mr Shah strongly toed Prime Minister’s line that a continuous election process would save on the government funds and ensure that the country is not on a permanent election mode and thereby political forces to adopt chiefly the path of populism.
“We must have faith and trust the voters,” he said adding there is no relation between Lok Sabha and Assembly elections.
“Voters vote on different issues in both polls,” he said.
Pushing for ‘One Nation – One Election’ agenda by the BJP comes at a time when it is about to launch a rather aggressive ‘social justice fortnight’ from August 15 to 30.
Elections to four states of Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh – all BJP ruled – and Mizoram under Congress are to go for assembly polls by November this year. General elections are due by April-May 2019.
A section of BJP leaders are already toying with the idea of ‘advancing’ polls in states like Maharashtra, Harayana and Jharkhand – where state assembly polls are due by October 2019.
Besides Union Minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, other leaders who met the Law Commission on Monday included Vinay Sahasrabuddhe, Bhupender Yadav and Anil Baluni – all Members of Parliament in Rajya Sabha.
“We have conveyed to the Law Commission about our party’s support for ‘One Nation One Election’ idea. We said, it will reduce expenditures significantly and the repetitive use of election machinery could be avoided,” Mr Bhupender Yadav later said.
He said “necessary amendments to Constitution should take place”.
Simultaneous elections to state legislatures and Lok Sabha as an idea has been one of the principal issues being pushed by the BJP leadership and even Prime Minister Narendra Modi himself since 2014.
The proponents of the idea have been insisting that such a measure can help in doing away with populist measures for the political leaderships both at the central and state levels and also save lot of time and money.
In terms of expenses, the BJP delegation pointed out that huge amount of Rs 4000 crore was spent in 2014 polls.
The Law Commission had already written to the seven recognised national and 59 state parties to give their views on the matter.
“There are over 9.30 lakh poll booths and over one crore workers are posted during polls. Rs 1,6-1,700 crore were spent in 2011 and Rs 4,000 crore in 2014 polls. ‘One Nation, One Election’ would reduce the cost. This exercise has been successful in several countries,” BJP MP Bhupendra Yadav said.
In an interview with a daily newspaper, Prime Minister Modi has again said: “We should give a serious consideration to the idea of simultaneous polls. I am glad that the Law Commission is making efforts in this direction. There is a need to debate this issue and then come to a resolution. I am happy that the debate has started on this issue.”
BJP’s ally Goa Forward Party is opposed to the idea and so is N Chandrababu-led TDP, which was part of NDA till March this year.
The Trinamool Congress and the CPI have have disapproved the concept saying such an idea is against federal structure of the Constitution.
However, the Bodoland People’s Front of Assam has welcomed the initiative.
Biju Janata Dal chief and Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik recently backed the idea.
The Congress party in its political resolution adopted after party plenary on March 17 in Delhi this year had said, “The BJP’s move for simultaneous elections is misplaced”. Congress, however, is in favour of consultations on the same.
Mamata Banerjee-led Trinamool Congress has opposed it.
Samajwadi Party leader Ram Gopal Yadav said his party can back the idea if assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh too take by 2019.
The BJP had stormed to power in Uttar Pradesh in 2017 ending its years of isolation from the seat of power in country’s most populous state.