GET Stock QuotesNews18 APP
News18 English
Powered by cricketnext logo
»
3-min read

OPINION | Will Take At Least 20 Years to Implement 'One Nation, One Poll' Idea

Constitutional amendments cannot be made, as a state’s period cannot be cut short by four years unless the respective assembly comes forward to dissolve itself.

Dr EM Sudarsana Natchiappan |

Updated:February 6, 2018, 1:53 PM IST
facebookTwittergoogleskypewhatsapp
OPINION | Will Take At Least 20 Years to Implement 'One Nation, One Poll' Idea
People stand in queues to cast their votes inside a polling booth. (Reuters)
The former chairperson of the standing committee on ‘Feasibility of Holding Simultaneous Elections to the House of People (Lok Sabha) and State Legislative Assemblies’. Natchiappan, a Congress leader, is the Rajya Sabha MP from Tamil Nadu. He proposes a two-phase system rather than the ‘One Nation, One Poll’ bugle being sounded by the current central government:

I had stated in my report that constitutional amendment was impossible. All parties would have to sacrifice their own terms, which could take about four-and-a-half years. They would also need to agree to preponing elections date and dissolving parliament.

For all of this to happen, one needs a constitutional amendment. This would be akin to the 1976 constitutional amendment, which extended the parliament. In a similar vein, all parties need to come together with certainty to discuss why parliament should be dissolved and other interim measures. In the present situation, though, it will be impossible.

Therefore, I had suggested two phases of elections. State assembly elections, which are being held within six month periods of parliamentary polls, can be preponed to combine them all.

The Representation of People Act, 1951, enables elections to be held anytime in the last six months of a government’s term lapsing. So state elections like Maharashtra, Jharkhand etc. can be held with the general elections without any amendment to the statute.

Similarly, elections that are taking place six months before parliamentary polls, like Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh etc. can go into Governor’s rule and be clubbed with the national election.

Then, around two-and-a-half years from 2019, say November 2021, the rest of the states can have their assembly elections. This is, of course, keeping Jammu and Kashmir as an exception, as it has a six-year period and cannot be clubbed with the others.

The Committee had taken note of the 117th report of the Law Commission of India on 'Reform of the Electoral Laws (1999)’ which dealt with achieving the objective of one election in five years for Lok Sabha as well as State Legislative Assemblies. While concluding its findings, we admitted that the desired goal of one election in every five years cannot be achieved overnight in the prevailing circumstances. It had to be achieved in stages.

Constitutional amendments cannot be made, as a state’s period cannot be cut short by four years unless the respective assembly comes forward to dissolve itself. This is currently an improbable thing and would take at least 20 years to usher in simultaneous elections. At least, four general elections need to lapse.

For example, Delhi’s elections used to earlier be held with Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh but it was dissolved and got more years. Gujarat has only four years and nine months, this, therefore, cannot be dissolved. The only way forward is political negotiation.

PM Narendra Modi, perhaps, only wants to combine Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and parliamentary elections together. Atal Bihari Vajpayee had also preponed the elections by six months by holding it in February, rather than November. PM Modi, too, may adjust general elections to coincide with polls in states with strong BJP presence like Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, etc.

We have now learned to live with regional parties. They weren’t too keen to join the central government till 1977, but that changed. National parties educated themselves to adjust to regional parties and have succeeded from 1999 till now to have representation from their allies in the cabinet, despite the former having majority.

Constitutional amendments cannot take place overnight. It takes time and state assemblies cannot just be dissolved. As I said, my estimates suggest it will take at least 20 years.

— As told to Debayan Roy

(Views are personal.)

Also Watch

| Edited by: Aditya Nair
Read full article
Next Story
Next Story
facebookTwittergoogleskypewhatsapp

Live TV